Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born 1943) is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. She won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles.
Billy Jean is an advocate for sexual equality. In 1973, at age 29, she won the so-called Battle of the Sexes tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, and was the co-founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, World TeamTennis and the Women’s Sports Foundation. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
In 1971 Billy Jean began an intimate relationship with her secretary, Marilyn Barnett. Billy Jean acknowledged the relationship when it became public in a May 1981 ‘palimony‘ lawsuit filed by Barnett, making King the first prominent professional female athlete to come out as a lesbian.
“Within 24 hours [of the lawsuit being filed], I lost all my endorsements; I lost everything. I lost $2 million at least, because I had longtime contracts. I had to play just to pay for the lawyers. In three months I went through $500,000. I was in shock. I didn’t make $2 million in my lifetime, so it’s all relative to what you make.”