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Billie Jean King

(b. 1943) American tennis player


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1943– )

US tennis player and one of the greatest players of all time, who won a record twenty Wimbledon titles.

In a long tennis career, King competed in over one hundred singles matches at Wimbledon alone. Her powerful serve and volley game gained her a total of six singles titles (1966–68, 1972, 1973, and 1975), ten doubles titles, and four mixed doubles titles. In 1983, at the age of forty, she retired after losing to Andrea Jaeger in the semi-finals. King's other notable singles titles included the 1968 Australian championship, the US Open in 1971, 1972, and 1974, and the 1972 French championship. She also won a string of doubles titles, usually partnered by Rosemary Casals; in 1980, she won her fourth US Open doubles title, playing with Martina Navratilova.

In 1973 King played before the largest ever tennis crowd of over 30 000 people in a challenge match against the 1939 Wimbledon men's champion, Bobby Riggs, at the Houston Astrodome, Texas. King won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and collected record prize money of $100,000. She played a prominent part in improving the status and prize money for women's professional tennis following the introduction of open tournaments in the late 1960s. Her writings on tennis include We Have Come a Long Way (with Cynthia Starr; 1989).


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