Billie Jean King

president-obama-billie-jean-king-01During her competitive days, Billie Jean King was one of the most successful players in women’s tennis. However, King is probably more recognized for her political support of women’s tennis, and her fight to achieve respect for lesbian and gay athletes in tennis, and in sport in general.  

Born in Long Beach, California in 1943 as Billie Jean Moffatt, she began playing tennis at the age of 11. King learned the game playing on municipal courts, rather than the route most successful players take in tennis in the private clubs. When King began competing in the elite levels of tennis, the sport was strictly amateur. She first entered Wimbledon in 1961, and only two years later she advanced to the final. She won her first Wimbledon title in 1966, at the young age of 22. Her first place prize for winning was a $60 gift voucher for Harrods department store. By the end of her remarkable career, King would amass a remarkable 39 Grand Slam titles.  

Although women’s tennis was amateur, King and a few other players began arguing for professional status. Indeed, King’s competitive performances and training regimen took on a very professional tone. In fact, it was King, and not men’s player John McEnroe, who started the practice of arguing against umpires’ decisions on the court, although it is the latter player who is better known for such antics. King’s training and competitive practices made her a truly modern and “professional” player, but they also cost her much public support.  

King’s major initiative was to start a professional tour, which began in 1968. Operating outside the auspices of the “official” tournaments and organizations, the new professional tour had trouble attracting many of the top international players. Interestingly, Wimbledon allowed professionals soon after King’s tour started. The rest of the world’s tours permitted professionals soon after.  

Among King’s other major political initiatives, she aligned herself with the pro-abortion movement, Title IX legislation in the U.S. (the purpose of which was to equalize girls’ and women’s funding in education), and she negotiated a deal with the Philip Morris Tobacco Company to set up the Virginia Slims tour. Finally, the famous match between herself and self-styled “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs in 1973, which King won, brought much public attention to King and to the growing women’s athletic movement.  

Finally, in 1981, it was revealed that King had a lesbian relationship with her secretary. At first King denied the allegation, but later she admitted to the relationship. Instead of hiding her sexuality, which is what female lesbian athletes had been doing for years, King was the first major sports superstar to come out. As such, King will be justifiably recognized as one of the first and most important fighters for the sexual rights of gays and lesbians in sport.

1 thought on “Billie Jean King

  • municipal

    relating to or belonging to the government of a town or city
    the municipal waste dump municipal elections
    the municipal building  
    ᅳmunicipally adverb


    [countable]an area made for playing games such as tennis
    ᅳsee also field, pitch

    squash/tennis/basketball etc court

    Can you book a squash court for tomorrow?
    on court
    The players are due on court in an hour.



    a ticket that can be used instead of money for a particular purpose
    The voucher can be used at most major supermarkets.

    First prize is a £1000 travel voucher.
    ᅳsee also gift voucher atgift token, luncheon voucher

    gift token also gift voucher
    a special piece of paper that is worth a particular amount of money when it is exchanged for goods in a shop, often given as a present

    American Equivalent: gift certificate


    if you amass money, knowledge, information etc, you gradually collect a large amount of it

    For 25 years, Darwin amassed evidence to support his theories.
    He amassed a fortune after the war.


    to collect (money, goods, power, etc.) in great amounts, usu. over a long period; ACCUMULATE:

    For 25 years, Darwin amassed evidence to support his theories.
    He amassed a fortune after the war.
    as soon as they amassed enough money, they decided to take a trip.  
    he carefully amassed evidence.  
    She amassed a fortune by speculating on the stock market.
    to amass evidence/information


    a fixed plan of food, exercise, etc., in order to improve one’s health: I followed a strict regimen.

    the daily regimen of a ballet dancer
    regimen of
    a regimen of morning stretching exercises
    Patients maintain a strict dietary regimen.


    the person who makes sure that the players obey the rules in sports such as tennis, baseball, and cricket


    near to the end; later:

    In the latter years of his life he lived alone and never welcomed visitors.


    behaviour that seems strange, funny, silly, or annoying

    We’re all growing tired of his childish antics.


    an important new plan or process to achieve a particular aim or to solve a particular problem

    a government initiative to help exporters an education initiative
    initiative for
    a new initiative for peace in the Middle East


    help, support, and favor:

    under the auspices of somebody/something
    This conference has been arranged under the auspices of the United Nations.
    negotiations held under the auspices of the United Nations.
    under the auspices of UNESCO.


    the act of stopping the development of a child inside a woman, esp. by a medical operation and usually before the 21st week:

    ᅳsynonym termination
    She had an abortion.
    Is abortion legal in your country?
    drugs used to induce abortion.
    anti-abortion groups.
    She decided to have an abortion .
    anti-abortion campaigners
    she has had two abortions and one miscarriage  

    (A 10-week-old fetus removed via a therapeutic abortion from a 44-year-old woman diagnosed with early-stage uterine cancer. The uterus (womb), included the fetus. Source: Wikipedia)

    Abortion is legal in many countries today, but it is a subject about which people have very strong feelings and often strongly opposing opinions. It is also a very important political issue in the US, and politicians must usually take sides. There are some very politically active organizations, esp. in the US, that want to make abortion illegal, but most people believe that the woman should make the final decision.



    a law or set of laws

    This is a very important piece of legislation (=law) .
    legislation on
    the legislation on abortion
    legislation to do something
    new legislation to protect children
    introduce/bring in legislation

    The government has promised to bring in new legislation to combat this problem.
    under new/existing/current etc legislation
    Both individuals and companies can be prosecuted under the new legislation.

    money that is provided by an organization for a particular purpose
    College directors have called for more government funding.

    someone, especially a man, who believes that their own sex is better or more important than the other sex

    He’s a bit of a male chauvinist . a male chauvinist pig (=an insulting name for a male chauvinist)
    a chauvinist foreign policy.
    Her husband’s such a chauvinist that he tries to tell her how to vote.


    to make known something that was previously secret or unknown
    ᅳopposite conceal

    He may be prosecuted for revealing secrets about the security agency.
    a test that can reveal a teacher’s hidden skills
    reveal (that)
    He revealed that he had been in prison twice before.
    reveal yourself (as/to be something)
    The violinist revealed himself as a talented interpreter of classical music.


    a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal, but that has not been proved

    allegations of corruption/fraud/misconduct etc

    Mr Singh has strongly denied the allegations of sexual harassment.
    allegation that
    an allegation that senior government figures were involved
    allegation against
    The teacher made serious allegations against a colleague.

    allegation of
    A committee will investigate allegations of racial discrimination.
    the allegations concerning his taking bribes  

    his allegations were unfounded  
    allegations of serious misconduct by government officials.
    If the allegations against him prove correct/prove to be well-founded, he will lose his job.

    search allegation on


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