Name at birth: Billie Jean Moffit
Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam tennis titles in her career and dominated women's tennis for more than a decade in the 1960s and 1970s. She won her first Wimbledon title in 1966, beating top-seeded Margaret Court Smith in the semis, and went on to win a total of 20 Wimbledon titles: six in singles, 10 in doubles, and four in mixed doubles. Her singles wins at Wimbledon were in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973 and 1975. In singles she also won one French Open (1972), one Australian Open (1968) and four U.S. Opens (1967, 1971, 1972 and 1974). Billie Jean King also played a major role in establishing the professional women's tennis tour in the 1970s. In 1973 she played men's player Bobby Riggs, who had publicly proclaimed no woman could beat him. (The previous year he had beaten Margaret Court.) The stunt was dubbed "The Battle of the Sexes" and played at the Houston Astrodome, and when King trounced Riggs she became a feminist icon. She also had some memorable matches with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who became her leading challengers in the 1970s. Since retiring, Billie Jean King has worked as a coach, television commentator and businesswoman, and has been a spokesperson for gay and lesbian rights. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009.
Billie Jean King’s longtime secretary, Marilyn Barnett, brought a palimony lawsuit against her in 1981 and their love affair became public. King won the suit… She was married to Lawrence (Larry) King from 1965 until their divorce in 1987. They had no children. He is no relation to TV personality Larry King.
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