Billie Jean King was born in California in 1943. By the end of her career she had amassed a whopping 39 Grand Slam victories (12 Singles, 16 Ladies' Doubles and 11 Mixed Doubles) and over $1 million in prize money at a time when tournaments did not have the immense purses typical today.
The American was ranked fourth in the world by 1960 when she was only seventeen years old, and first won a Wimbledon title, the Ladies' Doubles, a year later. King's contribution to Tennis did not end with her incredible achievements on the court. Both during her career and after her retirement, King's dedication to securing equal opportunities (and, controversially, equal prize money) for women has been second to none. In recent years, the dedication of King and other advocates for complete equality has paid off; the French Open and Wimbledon will pay the winners of the Ladies' and Men's Finals equal amounts for the first time in 2007. Such developments have not been without serious debate though.
King is well remembered for defeating Bobby King in a match broadcast to over 50 million people from the Houston Astrodome in 1973. She defeated King 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in the match which became known as the "Battle of the Sexes".