Biography of Famous Tennis Player and Athlete Billie Jean King

About the biography of the famous tennis player and athlete Billie Jean King, history and information.

Billie Jean King

When she was just a kid, she dropped softball and began looking for a more ladylike sport. Billie Jean King (then Moffitt) loved to run and hit things. So she began whunking tennis balls on the public courts of Long Beach, Calif., where she discovered another favorite pastime: charging the net.

She began tournament play in 1958: By 1959 she was 16 and good enough to meet Wimbledon star Maria Bueno in the Eastern Grass Court championships. Reaching the finals of the national 18-and-under tourney in 1960 she lost to Karen Hantze but picked up a doubles partner. She and Miss Hantze became the youngest team to take the Wimbledon doubles, in 1961.

Finally, in 1966, she won her 1st Wimbledon singles title and followed up in 1967 with major triumphs in all fields. She fought to titles in the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles for a Wimbledon triple sweep. It was the 1st for a woman since Doris Hart in 1951.

Billie Jean returned to America and added the U.S. national singles laurel to her wreath, defeating Ann Jones 11-9, 6-4 to return the title to her country for the 1st time since 1961. As frosting, she added the doubles and mixed doubles championships and became the 1st double triple-sweep winner since Alice Marble in 1939.

Ms. King won Wimbledon again in 1968, 1972 and 1973. As the dividing lines between amateur and professional became dimmer, she led a minor revolt against USLTA rules and lost her eligibility.

The U.S. national tournament became the U.S. Open in 1970, and had been available to pros as well as amateurs since 1968. Billie Jean regained her status and won the singles title in 1971 and 1972.

It was in September, 1973, that 29-year-old Ms. King gained her greatest celebrity when she accepted the challenge of 55-year-old Bobby Riggs in what was billed as the Battle of the Sexes and a showdown match between a Women's Libber and a Male Chauvinist. Riggs, who had been USLTA singles champion in 1939 and 1941 and earlier in 1973 the conqueror of Margaret Court Smith 6-2, 6-1, was the solid favorite. But when they collided in the Houston Astrodome and on national TV for $100,000, "Ms." King mercilessly crushed Riggs 6-4, 6-3,6-3.

In 1974 she became player-coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms in the World Team Tennis League, an experiment in matching pro tennis teams the way pro baseball and football teams are matched.

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