Women's Forum of New York

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Billie Jean King

Founder, Billie Jean King Leadership Institute

Billie Jean King, longtime champion for social change and equality, created new inroads for men and women in sports and beyond during her legendary tennis career. Growing up playing tennis in California public parks, she won her first of a record 20 Wimbledon titles in 1961 and went on to win 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles. She empowered women and educated men with her 1973 defeat of Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, which has been regarded as one of the greatest moments in sports history. Ms. King was named one of the ‘100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century’ by Life Magazine and, in 2009, President Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She founded the Women’s Tennis Association (1973), the Women’s Sports Foundation (1974) and co-founded World TeamTennis (1974). Ms. King sits on the boards of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Andy Roddick Foundation and was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. In 2014 she launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, which addresses inclusion and diversity in the workplace and beyond.