Billie Jean King (née Moffitt) (born November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California) is a retired tennis player from the United States. She won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an outspoken advocate against sexism in sports and society. The tennis match for which the public best remembers her is the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men's champion who had been one of the leading male players in the 1930s and 1940s.
King attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School. She then attended California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) because her parents could not afford Stanford or UCLA. Even at CSULA, King had to work two jobs to pay her way.
She married Lawrence King in Long Beach, California on September 17, 1965. In 1971, she had an abortion, which was revealed to the public in a Ms. Magazine article in 1972 by Lawrence without consulting Billie Jean in advance. King said in her 1982 autobiography that she decided to have an abortion because she believed her marriage was not, at that time, solid enough to bring a child into her family. Billie Jean and Lawrence divorced in 1987.
By 1968, King realized that she was interested in women, and in 1971, King began an intimate relationship with her secretary, Marilyn Barnett. King acknowledged the relationship when it became public in a May 1981 palimony lawsuit filed by Barnett, becoming the first prominent professional female athlete to come out as gay. King said that she had wanted to retire from competitive tennis in 1981 but could not afford to because of the lawsuit. "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. King said in 1998 that Martina Navratilova was not supportive when King was outed, resulting in their relationship having a "very bad five years. Speaking about the lawsuit in 2007, 26 years after it was filed, King said, "It was very hard on me because I was outed and I think you have to do it in your own time. Fifty per cent of gay people know who they are by the age of 13, I was in the other 50%. I would never have married Larry if I’d known. I would never have done that to him. I was totally in love with Larry when I was 21." Concerning the personal cost of concealing her sexuality for so many years, King said,
In 1999, King was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Philip Morris Incorporated, garnering some criticism from anti-tobacco groups. She no longer serves in that capacity.
King currently resides in New York and Chicago with partner Ilana Kloss.
King learned to play tennis on the public courts of Long Beach, California. She was an aggressive, hard-hitting net-rusher, with excellent speed. Chris Evert, however, said about King, "Her weakness is her impatience.
Concerning her motivations in life and tennis, King said, "Any time you're satisfied with mediocrity, any time you take away incentive from human beings, you've blown it. I'm a perfectionist much more than I'm a super competitor, and there's a big difference there.... I've been painted as a person who only competes. ... But most of all, I get off on hitting a shot correctly. ... Any woman who wants to achieve anything has to be aggressive and tough, but the press never sees us as multidimensional. They don't see the emotions, the downs.... In a 1984 interview just after she had turned 40, King said, "Sometimes when I'm watching someone like Martina [Navratilova], I remember how nice it was to be No. 1. Believe me, it's the best time in your life. Don't let anyone ever tell you different. But then I think about the emotional and physical effort it takes to be No. 1, and I realize it's not there anymore. I know that, and it's OK. It's part of the process. My only regret is that I had to do too much off the court. Deep down, I wonder how good I really could have been if I [had] concentrated just on tennis.
Julie Heldman, who frequently played King but never felt close to her, said about King's personality, "One of the reasons I've never gotten close to Billie Jean is that I've never felt strong enough to survive against that overwhelming personality of hers. People talk about me being the smart one. Let me tell you, Billie Jean's the smartest one, the cleverest one you'll ever see. She was the one who was able to channel everything into winning, into being the most consummate tennis player. Kristen Kemmer Shaw, another frequent opponent of King, said, "For a time, I think I was as close to Billie Jean as anyone ever was. But as soon as I got to the point where I could read her too well, she tried to dissociate the relationship. She doesn't want to risk appearing weak in front of anybody. She told me once that if you want to be the best, you must never let anyone, anyone, know what you really feel. You see, she told me, they can't hurt you if they don't know. King once said, "Victory is fleeting. Losing is forever.
Concerning the qualities of a champion tennis player, King said,
In a May 19, 1975, Sports Illustrated article about King, Frank Deford noted that she had become something of a sex symbol and said, "Billie Jean cackles when the matter of her being a sex symbol is raised. 'Hysterical! Hysterical! Me, with these little short legs!' But she is practical enough to realize that a guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls has bought a ticket as sure as the guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls' forehands. ... Billie Jean herself not only thinks that sex is a dandy thing to have lurking around sports, but she also employs sex as sort of the ultimate gauge of equality between women's and men's athletics. This may be described as the Get-It Quotient.... 'There's a lot of ugly fellas among the male athletes, but just because they're athletes they get it all the time, don't they? Now, never mind prize money and publicity and all that. When we reach the point where all the women athletes are getting it, too, regardless of their looks, just like the fellas, then we've really arrived.'
In 1959, the 15-year-old King had her Grand Slam debut at the U.S. Championships, losing to Justina Bricka in the first round 4–6, 7–5, 6–4 after having had a match point. In July and August, King played four of the tournaments that comprised the "Eastern Grass Court Circuit." At the Middle States Grass Court Championships in Philadelphia, King lost to Nancy Richey Gunter in the quarterfinals. At the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships, King lost to Karen Hantze Susman in the quarterfinals. At the Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, King defaulted her quarterfinal match with Kathy Chabot while trailing 6–1, 1–2. At the Eastern Grass Court Championships, King lost to Maria Bueno in the third round 6–4, 6–4. In her final adult tournament of the year, King lost (7–5 in the third set) to Ann Haydon Jones in the third round of the Pacific Southwest Championships.
Alice Marble, winner of 18 Grand Slam titles from 1936 through 1940, began coaching King on weekends during 1959, saying, "Clyde Walker has given Billie all the tools she needs to be a winner. Now all she needs is confidence and time. King, however, believes that Maureen Connolly Brinker almost permanently destroyed her confidence as a player when Connolly Brinker mistakenly thought that the type of reverse psychology which motivated herself to become the World No. 1 also would work on King. While the 15-year-old King was practicing on the Junior Wightman Cup team, Connolly Brinker took her to dinner and said, "Look, I just want to let you know: you'll never make it. So don't bother." About ten years later, King learned the truth. While watching the team practice, Connolly Brinker had asked an assistant coach of the team who the top prospect was. When the coach responded with Tory Fretz, Connolly Brinker laughed, pointed at King, and said, "Oh no, the only one with any real chance at all is that one.
In 1960, King won her first adult tournament title at the Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, defeating Karen Hantze Susman in the quarterfinals. At the U.S. Championships, King was defeated in the third round by seventh-seeded Bernice Carr Vukovich of South Africa 7–5, 6–4. King lost four significant matches to veteran players. In May, she lost in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Championships 6–4, 2–6, 6–4 to 43 year old Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney, who was the first American to win the singles title at the Australian Championships in 1938. Two months later, King lost in the second round of the U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships 1–6, 6–0, 6–3 to 35 year old but second-seeded Dorothy Head Knode, who went on to win the title for the fourth and final time. The next week, King was defeated in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships 6–4, 2–6, 6–2 by 42 year old Margaret Osborne duPont, a six-time Grand Slam singles champion. In her last tournament of the year, King, the top seed, lost in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Hard Court Championships to Cheney 6–3, 4–6, 6–3.
King first gained international recognition in 1961 when, at age 17, she won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon in her first attempt while partnering Karen Hantze Susman. Although unseeded, King and Susman defeated the top seeded team of Renee Schuurman Haygarth and Sandra Reynolds Price in the quarterfinals and the third seeded team of Margaret Smith Court and Jan Lehane O'Neill in the final. In second round singles play at Wimbledon, fifth-seeded Yola Ramirez Ochoa defeated King in a two-day match on Centre Court 11–9, 1–6, 6–2 after King had received a first round bye. Earlier in the year, King lost to Susman in the final of the Southern California Championships but successfully defended her title in Philadelphia and won the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships for the first time. Christine Truman Janes, the fourth seed, defeated the unseeded King in the second round of the U.S. Championships 6–3, 3–6, 6–2. At the Pacific Southwest Championships, King lost in the third round to Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (then 45 years old) 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 for the third consecutive time. Playing in the Wightman Cup for the first time, King defeated Ann Haydon Jones but lost to Janes.
In 1962, King lost to Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (now 45 years old) for the fourth time in four career matches, this time in the semifinals of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. The following week, Karen Hantze Susman defeated King in the final of the Southern California Championships for the second consecutive year. In only her second career singles match at Wimbledon, King upset Margaret Smith Court, the World No. 1 and top seed, in a second round match by attacking Court's forehand after Court had led in the third set 3–0, 5–2, and served at 5–3 (30–15). This was the first time in Wimbledon history that the women's top seed had lost her first match. King eventually reached the quarterfinals, losing to fifth-seeded Ann Haydon Jones 6–3, 6–1. One month later, Court defeated King in the semifinals of both the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships (6–4, 6–3) and the Eastern Grass Court Championships (6–3, 6–4). At the Wightman Cup, King and Susman lost their only match of the tie to the team of Jones and Christine Truman Janes. At the U.S. Championships, King got injured and retired from her first round match with Victoria Palmer while leading 8–6, 0–5. King ended her year by losing to Renee Schuurman Haygarth in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Southwest Championships.
In 1963, King won the Southern California Championships for the first time, defeating Darlene Hard in the final. At Wimbledon, the unseeded King defeated seventh-seeded Maria Bueno in the quarterfinals 6–2, 7–5 and third-seeded Ann Haydon Jones in the semifinals 6–4, 6–4 before losing the final to top-seeded Margaret Smith Court. The following week, King won her first international title at the Irish Championships. In Wightman Cup competition, King defeated Christine Truman Janes 6–4, 19–17 and Jones. King was seeded third at the U.S. Championships but lost her fourth round match with unseeded Dierdre Catt Keller McMahon. At the year ending Pacific Southwest Championships, King defeated Jones and Bueno before losing to Hard in the final.
In 1964, King won four relatively minor titles but lost to Margaret Smith Court in the Wimbledon semifinals 6–3, 6–4. King defeated Ann Haydon Jones at both the Wightman Cup and Federation Cup but lost to Court in the final of the Federation Cup 6–2, 6–3. At the U.S. Championships, fifth-seeded Nancy Richey Gunter upset third-seeded King in the quarterfinals 6–4, 6–4. Late in the year, King decided to make a full-time commitment to tennis. She said,
While in Australia, King played three tournaments to end the year, losing in the quarterfinals of the Queensland Grass Court Championships, the final of the New South Wales Championships (to Court), and the third round of the Victorian Championships.
In early 1965, King continued her 3-month tour of Australia. She lost in the final of the South Australian Championships and the first round of the Western Australia Championships. At the Federation Cup in Melbourne, King defeated Ann Haydon Jones to help the United States defeat the United Kingdom in the second round. However, Margaret Smith Court again defeated King in the final. At the Australian Championships two weeks later, King lost to Court in the semifinals 6–1, 8–6. At Wimbledon, King lost in the semifinals for the third consecutive year, this time to Maria Bueno 6–4, 5–7, 6–3. King's last tournament of the year was the U.S. Championships, where she defeated Jones in the quarterfinals (16–14, 6–2) and Bueno in the semifinals. In the final, King led 5–3 in both sets, was two points from winning the first set, and had two set points in the second set before losing to Court 8–6, 7–5. King said that losing while being so close to winning was devastating, but the match proved to her that she was "good enough to be the best in the world. I'm going to win Wimbledon next year." King won six tournaments during the year. For the first time in 81 years, the annual convention of the United States Lawn Tennis Association overruled its ranking committee's recommendation to award King the sole U.S. No. 1 position and voted 59,810 to 40,966 to rank Nancy Richey Gunter and King as co-U.S. No. 1.
From 1966 through 1975, King won 32 of her career 39 Grand Slam titles, including all 12 of her Grand Slam singles titles, 9 of her 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 10 of her 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
Six of King's Grand Slam singles titles were at Wimbledon, four were at the U.S. Championships/Open, one was at the French Open, and one was at the Australian Championships. King reached the final of a Grand Slam singles tournament in 16 out of 25 attempts and had a 12–4 win-loss record in those finals. In the nine tournaments that she failed to reach the final, she was a losing semifinalist twice and a losing quarterfinalist five times. From 1971 through 1975, King won seven of the ten Grand Slam singles tournaments she played. She won the last seven Grand Slam singles finals she contested, six of them in straight sets and four of them against Evonne Goolagong Cawley. All but one of King's Grand Slam singles titles were on grass.
King's Grand Slam record from 1966 through 1975 was comparable to that of Margaret Smith Court, her primary rival during these years. One or both of these women played 35 of the 40 Grand Slam singles tournaments held during this period, and together they won 24 of them. During this period, Court won 31 of her career 64 Grand Slam titles, including 12 of her 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 11 of her 19 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 8 of her 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Court reached the final of a Grand Slam singles tournament in 14 out of 25 attempts and had a 12–2 win-loss record in those finals. Court won 7 of the 12 Grand Slam finals she played against King during these years, including 2–1 in singles finals, 4–1 in women's doubles finals, and 1–3 in mixed doubles finals.
King was the year-ending World No. 1 in six of the ten years from 1966 through 1975. She was the year-ending World No. 2 in three of those years and the World No. 3 in the other year.
King won 97 of her career 129 singles titles during this period and was the runner-up in 36 other tournaments.
In 1966, King defeated Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (then 49 years old) for the first time in five career matches, winning their semifinal at the Southern California Championships 6–0, 6–3. King also ended her nine match losing streak to Margaret Smith Court by defeating her in the final of the South African Tennis Championships. At the Wightman Cup just before Wimbledon, King defeated Virginia Wade and Ann Haydon Jones. After thirteen unsuccessful attempts to win a Grand Slam singles title from 1959 through 1965, King at the age of 22 finally won the first of her six singles titles at Wimbledon and the first of twelve Grand Slam singles titles overall, defeating Court in the semifinals 6–3, 6–3 and Maria Bueno in the final. King credited her semifinal victory to her forehand down the line, a new shot in her repertoire. She also said that the strategy for playing Court is, "Simple. Just chip the ball back at her feet. At the U.S. Championships, an ill King was upset by Kerry Melville Reid in the second round.
King successfully defended her title at the South African Tennis Championships in 1967, defeating Maria Bueno in the final. She played the French Championships for the first time in her career, falling in the quarterfinals to Annette Van Zyl DuPlooy of South Africa. At the Federation Cup one week later in West Germany on clay, King won all four of her matches, including victories over DuPlooy, Ann Haydon Jones, and Helga Niessen Masthoff. King then successfully switched surfaces and won her second consecutive Wimbledon singles title, defeating Virginia Wade in the quarterfinals 7–5, 6–2 and Jones. At the Wightman Cup, King again defeated Wade and Jones. King won her second Grand Slam singles title of the year when she won the U.S. Championships for the first time and without losing a set, defeating Wade, DuPlooy, Francoise Durr, and Jones in consecutive matches. Jones pulled her left hamstring muscle early in the final and saved four match points in the second set before King prevailed. King won the singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships, the first woman to do that since Alice Marble in 1939. King then returned to the Australian summer tour in December for the first time since 1965, playing seven events there and Judy Tegart Dalton in six of those events (winning four of their matches). King lost in the quarterfinals of the New South Wales Championships in Sydney to Dalton after King injured her left knee in the second game of the third set of that match. However, King won the Victorian Championships in Melbourne the following week, defeating Dalton, Reid, and Lesley Turner Bowrey in the last three rounds. At a team event in Adelaide, King won all three of her singles and doubles matches to help the U.S. defeat Australia 5–1. To finish the year, King lost to Dalton in the final of the South Australian Championships in Adelaide.
In early 1968, King won three consecutive tournaments to end her Australian tour. In Perth, King won the Western Australia Championships, defeating Margaret Smith Court in the final. In Hobart, King won the Tasmanian Championships by defeating Judy Tegart Dalton in the final. King then won the Australian Championships for the first time, defeating Dalton in the semifinals and Court in the final. King continued to win tournaments upon her return to the United States, winning three indoor tournaments before Nancy Richey Gunter defeated King in the semifinals of the Madison Square Garden Challenge Trophy amateur tournament in New York City before 10,233 spectators. The match started with Gunter taking a 4–2 lead in the first set, before King won 9 of the next 10 games. King served for the match at 5–1 and had a match point at 5–3 in the second set; however, she lost the final 12 games and the match 4–6, 7–5, 6–0. King then won three consecutive tournaments in Europe before losing to Ann Haydon Jones in the final of a professional tournament at Madison Square Garden. Playing the French Open for only the second time in her career and attempting to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles titles (a "non-calendar year Grand Slam"), King defeated Maria Bueno in a quarterfinal before losing to Gunter in a semifinal 2–6, 6–3, 6–4. King rebounded to win her third consecutive Wimbledon singles title, defeating Jones in the semifinals and Dalton in the final. At the US Open, King defeated Bueno in a semifinal before being upset in the final by Virginia Wade. On September 24, she had surgery to repair cartilage in her left knee and did not play in tournaments the remainder of the year. King said that it took eight months (May 1969) for her knee to recover completely from the surgery. In 1977, King said that her doctors predicted in 1968 that her left knee would allow her to play competitive tennis for only two more years.
King participated in the 1969 Australian summer tour for the second consecutive year. Unlike the previous year, King did not win a tournament. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Tasmanian Championships and the semifinals of the New South Wales Championships. At the Australian Open, King defeated 17 year old Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the second round 6–3, 6–1 and Ann Haydon Jones in a three-set semifinal before losing to Margaret Smith Court in a straight-sets final. The following week, King lost in the semifinals of the New Zealand Championships. Upon her return to the United States, King won the Pacific Coast Pro and the Los Angeles Pro. King then won two tournaments in South Africa, including the South African Open. During the European summer clay court season, King lost in the quarterfinals of both the Italian Open and the French Open. On grass at the Wills Open in Bristol, United Kingdom, King defeated Virginia Wade in the semifinals (6–8, 11–9, 6–2) before losing to Court. At Wimbledon, King lost only 13 points while defeating Rosemary Casals in the semifinals 6–1, 6–0; however, Jones upset King in the final and prevented King from winning her fourth consecutive singles title there. The week after, King again defeated Wade to win the Irish Open for the second time in her career. In the final Grand Slam tournament of the year, King lost in the quarterfinals of the US Open to Nancy Richey Gunter 6–4, 8–6. This was the first year since 1965 that King did not win at least one Grand Slam singles title. King finished the year with titles at the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles, the Stockholm Indoors, and the Midland (Texas) Pro. She said during the Pacific Southwest Open, "It has been a bad year for me. My left knee has been OK, but I have been bothered by a severe tennis elbow for seven months. I expect to have a real big year in 1970, though, because I really have the motivation now. I feel like a kid again.
In 1970, Margaret Smith Court won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments and was clearly the World No. 1. King lost to Court three times in the first four months of the year, in Philadelphia, Dallas, and Johannesburg (at the South African Open). Court, however, was not totally dominant during this period as King defeated her in Sydney and Durban, South Africa. Where Court dominated was at the Grand Slam tournaments. King did not play the Australian Open. King had leg cramps and lost to Helga Niessen Masthoff of West Germany in the quarterfinals of the French Open 2–6, 8–6, 6–1. At Wimbledon, Court needed seven match points to defeat King in the final 14–12, 11–9 in one of the greatest women's finals in the history of the tournament. On July 22, King had right knee surgery, which forced her to miss the US Open. King returned to the tour in September, where she had a first round loss at the Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston and a semifinal loss at the Pacific Coast Championships in Berkeley, California. To close out the year, King in November won the Virginia Slims Invitational in Richmond, Virginia and the Embassy Indoor Tennis Championships in London. During the European clay court season, King warmed-up for the French Open by playing in Monte Carlo (losing in the semifinals), winning the Italian Open (saving three match points against Virginia Wade in the semifinals), playing in Bournemouth (losing to Wade in the quarterfinals), and playing in Berlin (losing to Masthoff in the semifinals). The Italian Open victory was the first important clay court title of King's career. Along the way, she defeated Masthoff in a three-set quarterfinal and Wade in a three-set semifinal, saving two match points at 4–5 in the second set. The twelfth game of that set (with King leading 6–5) had 21 deuces and lasted 22 minutes, with Wade saving seven set points and holding sixteen game points before King won. In Wightman Cup competition two weeks before Wimbledon but played at the All England Club, King defeated both Wade and Ann Haydon Jones in straight sets.
Although King won only one Grand Slam singles title in 1971, this was the best year of her career in terms of tournaments won (17). According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, she played in 31 singles tournaments and compiled a 112–13 win-loss record.
She started the year by winning eight of the first thirteen tournaments she played, defeating Rosemary Casals in seven finals. King's five losses during this period were to Francoise Durr (twice), Casals (once), Ann Haydon Jones (once), and Chris Evert (in St. Petersburg). The St. Petersburg tournament was King's first since having an abortion that caused her to miss the Virginia Slims tour event in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the time, King said that retiring from the match with Evert after splitting the first two sets was necessary because of leg cramps. But in early 1972, King admitted that cramps associated with the abortion caused the retirement.
At the tournament in Hurlingham, United Kingdom in early May, King lost a second round match to an old rival, Christine Truman Janes (now 30 years old), 6–4, 6–2. But King recovered the next week to win the German Open in Hamburg on clay. Four weeks later at the Queen's Club tournament in London, King played Margaret Smith Court for the first time in 1971, losing their final. At Wimbledon, King defeated Janes in the fourth round (6–2, 7–5) and Durr in the quarterfinals before losing unexpectedly to Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 6–4, 6–4. Two weeks after Wimbledon, King won the grass court tournament in Hoylake, United Kingdom, beating Virginia Wade, Court, and Casals in the last three rounds. She then played two clay court tournaments in Europe, winning neither, before resuming play in the United States.
In August, King won the indoor Houston tournament and the U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships in Indianapolis. King then switched back to grass and won the US Open without losing a set, defeating Evert in the semifinals (6–3, 6–2) and Casals in the final. King then won the tournaments in Louisville, Phoenix, and London (Wembley Pro). King and Casals both defaulted at 6–6 in the final of the Pepsi Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles in September when their request to remove a lineswoman was denied, eventually resulting in the United States Lawn Tennis Association fining both players US$2,500. To end the year, King played two tournaments in New Zealand but did not win either. She lost in Christchurch to Durr and in Auckland to Kerry Melville Reid.
King won three Grand Slam singles titles in 1972, electing not to play the Australian Open despite being nearby when she played in New Zealand in late-1971. King said, "I was twenty-eight years old, and I was at the height of my powers. I'm quite sure I could have won the Grand Slam [in] ... 1972, but the Australian was such a minor-league tournament at that time.... More important, I did not want to miss any Virginia Slims winter tournaments. I was playing enough as it was.
At the beginning of the year, King failed to win eight of the first ten tournaments she played. She won the title in San Francisco in mid-January. But then King lost in Long Beach to Francoise Durr (although King claimed in her 1982 autobiography that she intentionally lost the match because of an argument with her husband) and in Fort Lauderdale on clay to Chris Evert 6–1, 6–0. The inconsistent results continued through mid-April, in Oklahoma City (losing in the quarterfinals); Washington, D.C. (losing in the second round); and Dallas (losing to Nancy Richey Gunter after defeating Evert in the quarterfinals 6–7(4–5), 6–3, 7–5 and Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 1–6, 6–4, 6–1). King won the title in Richmond; however, one week later, King lost in the semifinals of the tournament in San Juan. This was followed in successive weeks by a loss in the Jacksonville final to Marie Neumannova Pinterova and in a St. Petersburg semifinal to Evert (6–2, 6–3).
King did not lose again until mid-August, winning six consecutive tournaments. She won the tournaments in Tucson and Indianapolis. King then won the French Open without losing a set and completed a career Grand Slam. She defeated Virginia Wade in the quarterfinals, Helga Niessen Masthoff in the semifinals, and Goolagong Cawley in the final. On grass, King then won the Wimbledon warm-up tournaments in Nottingham and Bristol and won Wimbledon itself for the fourth time. She lost only one set during the tournament, to Wade in the quarterfinals. That was followed by straight set wins over Rosemary Casals and Goolagong Cawley. When the tour returned to the United States, King did not win any of the three tournaments she played before the US Open, including a straight sets loss to Margaret Smith Court in Newport. At the US Open, however, King won the tournament without losing a set, including a quarterfinal win over Wade, a semifinal defeat of Court, and a final win over Kerry Melville Reid. King finished the year by winning the tournaments in Charlotte and Phoenix (defeating Court in the final of both), a runner-up finish in Oakland (losing to Court), and a semifinal finish in Boca Raton (losing to Evert).
1973 was Margaret Smith Court's turn to win three Grand Slam singles titles, failing to win only Wimbledon, and was the clear World No. 1 for the year. As during the previous year, King started 1973 inconsistently. She missed the first three Virginia Slims tournaments in January because of a wrist injury. She then lost in the third round at the Virginia Slims of Miami tournament but won the Virginia Slims of Indianapolis tournament, defeating Court in the semifinals 6–7, 7–6, 6–3 and Rosemary Casals in the final. The semifinal victory ended Court's 12-tournament and 59-match winning streaks, with King saving at least three match points when down 5–4 (40–0) in the second set. Indianapolis was followed by five tournaments that King failed to win (Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Jacksonville, and the inaugural Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina). King lost to Court in two of those tournaments. After deciding not to defend her French Open singles title, King won four consecutive tournaments, including her fifth Wimbledon singles title when she defeated Kerry Melville Reid in the quarterfinals, Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals on her eighth match point, and Chris Evert in the final. King lost only nine points in the 6–0 bageling of Evert in the first set of their final. In none of the preceding tournaments, however, did King play Court. Their rivalry resumed in the final of the Virginia Slims of Nashville tournament, where Court won for the third time in four matches against King in 1973. (This was the last ever singles match between those players, with Court winning 21 and King 13 of their 34 matches.) Three weeks later at the US Open, King retired from her fourth round match with Julie Heldman while ill and suffering from the oppressive heat and humidity. When Heldman complained to the match umpire that King was taking too long between games, King reportedly said to Heldman, "If you want the match that badly, you can have it! The Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs was held in the middle of the Virginia Slims of Houston tournament. King won her first and second round matches three days before playing Riggs, defeated Riggs, won her quarterfinal match the day after the Riggs match, and then lost the following day to Casals in the semifinals 7–6, 6–1. According to King, "I had nothing left to give. To end the year, King won tournaments in Phoenix, Hawaii, and Tokyo and was the runner-up in Baltimore.
Despite King's achievements at the world's biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers King for her win over Bobby Riggs in 1973.
Riggs had been a top men's player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won the Wimbledon men's singles title in 1939, and was considered the World No. 1 male tennis player for 1941, 1946, and 1947. He then became a self-described tennis "hustler" who played in promotional challenge matches. In 1973, he took on the role of male chauvinist. Claiming that the women's game was so inferior to the men's game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players, he challenged and defeated Margaret Smith Court 6–2, 6–1. King, who previously had rejected challenges from Riggs, then accepted a lucrative financial offer to play him.
Dubbed the Battle of the Sexes, the Riggs-King match was played at the Houston Astrodome in Texas on September 20, 1973. The match garnered huge publicity. In front of 30,492 spectators and a worldwide television audience estimated at 50 million people in 37 countries, King beat Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. The match is considered a very significant event in developing greater recognition and respect for women's tennis. King said, "I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn't win that match. It would ruin the women's [tennis] tour and affect all women's self-esteem.
In recent years, a persistent urban legend has arisen, particularly on the Internet, that the rules of tennis were modified for the match so that Riggs had only one serve for King's two and that King was allowed to hit into the doubles court area. This is untrue because the match was played under the normal rules of tennis.
King won five of the first seven tournaments she contested in 1974. She won the Virginia Slims of San Francisco, defeating Nancy Richey Gunter in the semifinals and Chris Evert in the final. The following week in Indian Wells, California, King again defeated Gunter in the semifinals but lost to Evert in the final. King then won tournaments in Fairfax, Virginia and Detroit before losing a semifinal match to Virginia Wade in Chicago. King won both tournaments she played in March, defeating Gunter in the Akron, Ohio final and Evert at the U.S. Indoor Championships final. Olga Morozova then upset King in her next two tournaments, at Philadelphia in the final and at Wimbledon in a quarterfinal 7–5, 6–2. Afterword, King did not play a tour match until the US Open, where she won her fourth singles title and third in the last four years. She defeated Rosemary Casals in a straight sets quarterfinal, avenged in the semifinals her previous year's loss to Julie Heldman, and narrowly defeated Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the final. King did not reach a tournament final during the remainder of the year, losing to Heldman in an Orlando semifinal, Wade in a Phoenix semifinal, and Goolagong Cawley in a semifinal of the tour-ending Virginia Slims Championships in Los Angeles.
In 1975, King played singles only half the year, as she retired (temporarily, as it turned out) from tournament singles competition immediately after winning her sixth Wimbledon singles title.
She began the year in San Francisco, defeating Francoise Durr and Virginia Wade before losing to Chris Evert in the final. The following week, King won the Sarasota, Florida tournament, defeating Evert in the final 6–3, 6–2. Evert said immediately after the final, which was her thirteenth career match with King, "I think that's the best that Billie Jean has ever played. I hit some great shots but they just kept coming back at me. Looking back at that match, King said, "I probably played so well because I had to, for the money. Out of frustration comes creativity. Right? Two months later, Wade defeated King in the semifinals of the Philadelphia tournament. At the Austin, Texas tournament in April, King defeated Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6–1, 6–3 before losing to Evert in the final. As King was serving for the match at 6–5 in the third set, a disputed line call went in Evert's favor. King said after the match that she was cheated out of the match and that she had never been angrier about a match.
King played only one of the Wimbledon warm-up tournaments, defeating Olga Morozova in the Eastbourne semifinals before losing to Wade in the final. Seeded third at Wimbledon, King defeated seventh seeded Morozova in the quarterfinals (6–3, 6–3) and then top seeded Evert in the semifinals (2–6, 6–2, 6–3) after being down 3–0 (40–15) in the final set. Evert blamed her semifinal defeat on a loss of concentration when she saw Jimmy Connors, her former fiance, escorting Susan George into Centre Court. King, however, believes that the match turned around because King planned for and totally prepared for Wimbledon that year and told herself when she was on the verge of defeat, "Hey, Billie Jean, this is ridiculous. You paid the price. For once, you looked ahead. You're supposed to win. Get your bahoola in gear. King then defeated fourth seeded Goolagong Cawley in the second most lopsided women's final ever at Wimbledon (6–0, 6–1). King called her performance a "near perfect match" and said to the news media, "I'm never coming back.
Except for five Federation Cup singles matches that she won in straight sets in August, King played only in doubles and mixed doubles events from January through September. She partnered Phil Dent to the mixed doubles title at the US Open. She lost to Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat in both of the singles tournaments she played the remainder of the year. Looking back, King said, "I wasted 1976. After watching Chris Evert and [[Evonne Goolagong Cawley|Evonne [Goolagong] Cawley]] play the final at Wimbledon I asked myself what I was doing. So, despite my age and the operations, the Old Lady came back.... King had knee surgery for the third time on November 9, this time on her right knee, and did not play the remainder of the year.
King spent the first three months of the year rehabilitating her right knee after surgery in November 1976.
In March 1977, King requested that the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) exercise its right to grand a wild card entry to King for the eight-player Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Margaret Court, who finished in sixth place on the Virginia Slims points list, failed to qualify for the tournament because she did not play enough Virginia Slims tournaments leading up to the championships. This left a spot open in the draw, which the WTA filled with Mima Jausovec. King then decided to play the Lionel Cup tournament in San Antonio, Texas, which the WTA harshly criticized because tournament officials there had allowed transexual Renee Richards to enter. Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Betty Stove (president of the WTA) criticized King's decision because of Richards's unresolved and highly controversial status on the women's tennis tour. Evert said she was disappointed with King and that until Richards's status was resolved, "all of the women should stick together." Navratilova said, "Billie Jean is a bad girl pouting. She made a bad decision. She's mad because she could not get what she wanted." Stove said that if King had wanted the competition, "[T]here are plenty of men around here she could've played with. She didn't have to choose a 'disputed' tournament. The draw in San Antonio called for King to play Richards in the semifinals had form held; however, Richards lost in the quarterfinals. King eventually won the tournament.
At the clay court Family Circle Cup in late March, King played for the last time her long-time rival Nancy Richey Gunter in the first round. King won 0–6, 7–6, 6–2. She defeated another clay court specialist, Virginia Ruzici, in the second round before winning only one game from Evert in the final.
At Wimbledon in the second round, King played Maria Bueno for the last time, with King winning 6–2, 7–5. In the quarterfinals, Evert defeated King for the first time at a Grand Slam singles tournament and for the first time on grass 6–1, 6–2 in just 46 minutes. Evert said it was the best match she had ever played on grass up to that point in her career, and King said, "She just played beautiful tennis. I don't think many players would've beaten her today. King also said after the match, "Maybe I can be happy being number eight instead of number one. At this stage, just playing, that's winning enough for me. But when asked about retirement, King said, "Retire? Quit tournament tennis? You gotta be kidding. It just means I've got a lot more work. I've got to make myself match tough ... mentally as well as physically. I gotta go out and kill myself for the next six months. It's a long, arduous process. I will suffer. But I will be back.
Evert repeated her Wimbledon quarterfinal victory over King at the clay court US Open, winning 6–2, 6–0. This loss prompted King to say, "I better get it together by October or November or that's it. I'll have to make some big decisions. I'm not 20-years-old and I can't just go out and change my game. It's only the last four weeks I haven't been in [knee] pain. [But if] I keep using that as a copout, I shouldn't play.
The remainder of the year, King's win-loss record was 31–3, losing only to Evert, Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat, and Michelle Tyler. King won five of the eight tournaments she entered plus both of her Wightman Cup matches. She defeated Navratilova all four times they played, including three times in three consecutive weeks, and beat Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade twice. Beginning September 26, King played seven consecutive weeks. She lost to Tyler in the second round in Palm Harbor, Florida and Fromholtz Balestrat in the semifinals in Atlanta. She then won three hard court tournaments in three consecutive weeks. She defeated Navratilova and Wendy Turnbull to win in Phoenix, losing only four points to Turnbull in the third set of the final. The next week, she defeated Navratilova, Fromholtz Balestrat, and Wimbledon runner-up Stove to win in Sao Paulo. The third week, she defeated Ruzici, Stove, and Janet Newberry to win in San Juan. In November, Evert snapped King's 18-match winning streak in the final of the Colgate Series Championships in Mission Hills, California. King then won her Wightman Cup matches, defeated Navratilova to win the tournament in Japan, and beat Wade to win the Bremar Cup in London. King said, "I have never had a run like this, even in the years when I was Wimbledon champion. At 34 I feel fitter than when I was 24.
King played 10 singles tournaments during the first half of 1978, limiting herself to doubles after Wimbledon.
To start the year, King was the runner-up in Houston and Kansas City (losing to Martina Navratilova in both) and in Philadelphia (losing to Chris Evert). At the Virginia Slims Championships, King lost her first round robin match to Virginia Wade and defaulted her two remaining round robin matches because of a leg injury sustained during the first match.
At Wimbledon, King played with a painful heel spur in her left foot and lost to Evert in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year 6–3, 3–6, 6–2. The match was on-serve in the third set with King serving at 2–3 (40–0) before Evert won five consecutive points to break serve. King won a total of only two points during the last two games. King said after the match, "I don't think my mobility is very good and that's what I need to beat her. Physically, she [Evert] tears your guts apart unless you can stay with her. I'm really disappointed. I really wanted to play well. I just couldn't cut it because of my heel.
King teamed with Navratilova to win the women's doubles title at the US Open, King's fourth women's doubles title at that tournament and 14th Grand Slam women's doubles title overall. To end the year, King was undefeated in five doubles matches (four with Evert and one with Rosemary Casals) as the U.S. won the Federation Cup in Melbourne. During the Federation Cup competition, King hinted at retirement from future major singles competitions and said that she was "sick and tired of continued surgery" in trying to get fit enough for those events. Nevertheless, King had foot surgery on December 22 in an attempt to regain mobility for a return to the tennis tour.
During the first half of 1979, King played only one event - doubles in the Federation Cup tie against Spain - because of major surgery to her left foot during December 1978.
King returned to singles competition at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Chichester. She defeated the defending Wimbledon champion, Martina Navratilova, in a 48-minute quarterfinal 6–1, 6–2 before losing to Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 1–6, 6–4, 10–8. Seeded seventh at Wimbledon, King defeated Hana Mandlikova in the fourth round before losing the last six games of the quarterfinal match with fourth-seeded Tracy Austin 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–2. King partnered with Navratilova at Wimbledon to win King's 20th and final Wimbledon title, breaking Elizabeth Ryan's longstanding record of 19 Wimbledon titles just one day after Ryan collapsed and died at Wimbledon.
At the US Open, the ninth-seeded King reached the quarterfinals without dropping a set, where she upset the fourth-seeded Virginia Wade 6–3, 7–6(4). Next up was a semifinal match with the four-time defending champion and top-seeded Chris Evert; however, with King hampered by a neck injury sustained during a bear hug with a friend the day before the match, Evert won 6–1, 6–0, including the last eleven games and 48 of the last 63 points. This was Evert's eighth consecutive win over King, with Evert during those matches losing only one set and 31 games and winning four 6–0 sets. Evert said after the match, "Psychologically, I feel very confident when I ... play her."
The following week in Tokyo, King won her first singles title in almost two years, defeating Goolagong Cawley in the final. In November in Stockholm, King defeated Betty Stove in the final after Stove lost her concentration while serving for the match at 5–4 in the third set. Three weeks later in Brighton, King lost a semifinal match with Navratilova 7–5, 0–6, 7–6(3) after King led 6–5 in the third set. She ended the year with a quarterfinal loss in Melbourne (not the Australian Open), a second round loss in Sydney, and a three-set semifinal loss to Austin in Tokyo.
At the winter series-ending Avon Championships in March, King defeated Virginia Wade in her first round robin match 6–1, 6–3. After Wade held serve at love to open the match, King won nine consecutive games and lost only nine points during those games. King then lost her second round robin match to Navratilova and defeated Wendy Turnbull in an elimination round match, before losing to Tracy Austin in the semifinals 6–3, 6–1.
King played the French Open for the first time since she won the event in 1972 and completed a career singles Grand Slam. She was seeded second but lost in the quarterfinals to fifth-seeded Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat of Australia 6–1, 6–4.
At Wimbledon, King defeated Pam Shriver in a two hour, forty minute fourth round match 5–7, 7–6, 10–8 after King saved a match point in the second set and recovered from a 4–2 (40–0) deficit in the third set with Shriver serving. In a quarterfinal that took two days to complete, King lost to two-time defending champion and top-seeded Navratilova 7–6, 1–6, 10–8. The beginning of the match was delayed until late afternoon because of rain. Because she wore eyeglasses, King agreed to start the match then on condition that tournament officials immediately suspend the match if the rain resumed. During the first set, drizzle began to fall; however, the chair umpire refused to suspend the match. King led in the tiebreaker 5–1 before Navratilova came back to win the set, whereupon the umpire then agreed to the suspension. When the match resumed the next day, King won 20 of the first 23 points to take a 5–0 lead in the second set and lost a total of seven points while winning the set in just 17 minutes. In the third set, Navratilova broke serve to take a 2–0 lead before King broke back twice and eventually served for the match at 6–5. King then hit four volley errors, enabling Navratilova to break serve at love and even the match. King saved three match points while serving at 6–7 and three more match points while serving at 7–8. During the change-over between games at 8–9, King's eyeglasses broke for the first time in her career. She had a spare pair, but they did not feel the same. King saved two match points before Navratilova broke serve to win the match. King said, "I think that may be the single match in my career that I could have won if I hadn't had bad eyes.
King teamed with Navratilova to win King's 39th and final Grand Slam title at the US Open. Navratilova then decided she wanted a new doubles partner and started playing with Shriver but refused to discuss the change directly with King. She finally confronted Navratilova during the spring of 1981, reportedly saying to her, "Tell me I'm too old ... but tell me something." Navratilova refused to talk about it.
In 1982, King was 38 years old and the twelfth-seed at Wimbledon. In her third round match with Tanya Harford of South Africa, King was down 7–5, 5–4 (40–0) before saving three match points to win the second set 7–6(2) and then the third set 6–3. King said in her post-match press conference, "I can't recall the previous time I have been so close to defeat and won. When I was down 4–5 and love-40, I told myself, 'You have been here 21 years, so use that experience and hang on.' In the fourth round, King upset sixth-seeded Australian Wendy Turnbull in straight sets. King then upset third-seeded Tracy Austin in the quarterfinals 3–6, 6–4, 6–2 to became the oldest female semifinalist at Wimbledon since Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers in 1920. This was King's first career victory over Austin after five defeats and reversed the result of their 1979 Wimbledon quarterfinal. King said in her post-match press conference, "Today, I looked at the scoreboard when I was 2–0 in the third set and the '2' seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. In 1979, when I was up 2–0 at the same stage, I was tired and didn't have anything left. But today I felt so much better and was great mentally. Two days later in the semifinals, which was King's 250th career match at Wimbledon in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles, the second-seeded Chris Evert defeated King on her fifth match point 7–6(4), 2–6, 6–3. King was down a set and 2–1 in the second set before winning five consecutive games to even the match. King explained that she actually lost the match in the first set by failing to convert break points at 15–40 in the second and fourth games.
King retired from competitive play in singles at the end of 1983.
She reached the semifinals in her final appearance at Wimbledon, losing to Andrea Jaeger 6–1, 6–1 after beating Kathy Jordan in the quarterfinals, seventh-seeded Wendy Turnbull in the fourth round, and Rosemary Casals, her longtime doubles partner, in the third round. Jaeger claims that she was highly motivated to defeat King because King had defeated Turnbull, a favorite of Jaeger's, and because King refused a towel from an attendant just before her match with Jaeger, explaining, "I'm not going to sweat in this match.
King played doubles sporadically from 1984 through 1990. She retired from competitive play in doubles in March 1990. In her last competitive doubles match, King and her partner, Jennifer Capriati, lost a second round match to Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Andrea Temesvari 6–3, 6–2 at the Virginia Slims of Florida tournament.
In 1967, King criticized the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) in a series of press conferences, denouncing what she called the USLTA's practice of "shamateurism," where top players were paid under the table to guarantee their entry into tournaments. King argued that this was corrupt and kept the game highly elitist. King quickly became a significant force in the opening of tennis to professionalism. King said this about the amateur game,
When the open era began, King campaigned for equal prize money in the men's and women's games. As the financial backing of the women's game improved due to the efforts of World Tennis magazine founder, publisher and editor Gladys M. Heldman, King became the first woman athlete to earn over US$100,000 in prize money in 1971; however, inequalities continued. King won the US Open in 1972 but received US$15,000 less than the men's champion Ilie Năstase. She stated that she would not play the next year if the prize money were not equal. In 1973, the US Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money for men and women.
King led player efforts to support the first professional women's tennis tour in the 1970s called the Virginia Slims, founded by Heldman and funded by Joseph Cullman of Philip Morris. Once the tour took flight, King worked tirelessly to promote it even though many of the other top players were not supportive. "For three years we had two tours and because of their governments [[Martina Navratilova|[Martina] Navratilova]] and Olga Morozova had to play the other tour. Chris [Evert], Margaret [Court], Virginia [Wade], they let us do the pioneering work and they weren't very nice to us. If you go back and look at the old quotes; they played for the love of the game, we played for the money. When we got backing and money, we were all playing together – I wonder why? I tried not to get upset with them. Forgiveness is important. Our job was to have one voice and win them over."
In 1973, King became the first president of the women's players union – the Women's Tennis Association. In 1974, she, with husband Larry King and Jim Jorgensen, founded womenSports magazine and started the Women's Sports Foundation. Also in 1974, King helped to found World TeamTennis. She became league commissioner in 1982.
King is a member of the Board of Honorary Trustees for the Sports Museum of America, which opened in 2008. The museum is the home of the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center, a comprehensive women's sports hall of fame and exhibit.
In the mid-1990s, King became the captain of the United States Fed Cup team and coach of its women's Olympic tennis squad. She guided the U.S. to the Fed Cup championship in 1996 and helped Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernandez, and Mary Joe Fernandez capture Olympic gold medals.
In 2002, King dismissed Capriati from the Fed Cup team, saying Capriati had violated rules that forbade bringing along and practicing with personal coaches. Opinion was sharply divided, with many supporting King's decision but many feeling the punishment was too harsh, especially in hindsight when Monica Seles and Lisa Raymond were defeated by lower-ranked Austrians Barbara Schett and Barbara Schwartz. The following year, Zina Garrison Jackson succeeded King as Fed Cup captain.
1 The world rankings in this table are from Lance Tingay of the London Daily Telegraph for 1959 through 1967 and from Bud Collins for 1968 through 1983.
2 King was ranked behind Margaret Smith Court, Lesley Turner Bowrey, and Maria Bueno.
3 King was ranked behind Court, Bueno, and Bowrey.
4 King was ranked behind Court and Ann Haydon Jones.
5 King was ranked behind Court.
6 King was ranked behind Chris Evert.
7 The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings began in 1973.
8 The U.S. rankings are from the United States Tennis Association.
9 King was ranked behind Darlene Hard, Karen Hantze Susman, and Gunter.
10 King was ranked behind Hard and Susman.
11 King was ranked behind Hard.
12 King was ranked behind Gunter.
13 King was ranked behind Martina Navratilova, Evert, and Tracy Austin.
King's triumph at the French Open in 1972 made her only the fifth woman in tennis history to win the singles titles at all four Grand Slam events, a "career Grand Slam." (Four additional women have completed a career Grand Slam since King.) King also won a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. In women's doubles, only the Australian Open eluded her.
King played 51 Grand Slam singles events from 1959 through 1983 (197–39 .835 win-loss record): 21 at Wimbledon (96–15 win-loss record), 18 at the U.S. Championships/Open (63–14 win-loss record), 7 at the French Championships/Open (22–6 win-loss record), and 5 at the Australian Championships/Open (16–4 win-loss record). King reached at least the semifinals in 27 and at least the quarterfinals in 40 out of her 51 attempts.
King was the runner-up in 6 Grand Slam singles events.
An indicator of King's mental toughness at crunch time in Grand Slam singles tournaments was her 11–2 career record in deuce third sets, i.e., third sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King won 129 singles titles, and her career prize money totalled US$1,966,487.
In Federation Cup finals, King was on the winning United States team seven times, in 1963, 1966, 1967, and 1976 through 1979. Her career win-loss record was 52–4 (26–3 in singles and 26–1 in doubles). She won the last 30 matches she played (excluding two unfinished matches), including 15 straight wins in both singles and doubles.
In Wightman Cup competition, King's career win-loss record was 22–4 (14–2 in singles and 8–2 in doubles), winning her last 9 matches (6 in singles and 3 in doubles). The United States won the cup 10 of the 11 years that King participated. In singles, King was 6–1 against Ann Haydon Jones, 4–0 against Virginia Wade, and 1–1 against Christine Truman Janes.
Chris Evert, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, has said, "She's the wisest human being that I've ever met and has vision people can only dream about. Billie Jean King is my mentor and has given me advice about my tennis and my boyfriends. On dealing with my parents and even how to raise children. And she doesn't have any.
King was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1967.
Friends with singer Elton John, the 1975 song "Philadelphia Freedom" is a tribute to King. On a PBS program, John talked about how he brought a demo copy of the record to play for her right after he had recorded it.
In 1975, Seventeen magazine found that King was the most admired woman in the world from a poll of its readers. Golda Meir, who had been Israel's prime minister until the previous year, finished second.
In 1979, several top players were asked who they would pick to help them recover from a hypothetical deficit of 1–5 (15–40) in the third set of a match on Wimbledon's Centre Court. Martina Navratilova, Rosemary Casals, and Francoise Durr all picked King. Navratilova said, "I would have to pick Billie Jean at her best. Consistently, Chris [Evert] is hardest to beat but for one big occasion, one big match, one crucial point, yes, it would have to be Billie Jean." Casals said, "No matter how far down you got her, you never could be sure of beating her.
King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
Life magazine in 1990 named her one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century."
King was the recipient of the 1999 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
In 2000, King received an award from the GLAAD, an organization devoted to reducing discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, for "furthering the visibility and inclusion of the community in her work." The award noted her involvement in production and the free distribution of educational films, as well as serving on the boards of several AIDS charities.
On August 28, 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. John McEnroe, Venus Williams, Jimmy Connors, and Chris Evert were among the speakers during the rededication ceremony. The center is the largest sports facility in the world to be named after a woman.
On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver inducted King into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.
Charles M. Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, was another of King's admirers and close friends. Schulz referenced King several times in Peanuts over the years. In one strip, Peppermint Patty tells Marcie, "Has anyone ever told you that when you're mad, you look just like Billie Jean King?"
|Year||Championship||Opponent in Final||Score in Final|
|1966||Wimbledon||Maria Bueno||6–3, 3–6, 6–1|
|1967||Wimbledon (2)||Ann Haydon Jones||6–3, 6–4|
|1967||U.S. Championships||Ann Haydon Jones||11–9, 6–4|
|1968||Australian Championships||Margaret Smith Court||6–1, 6–2|
|1968||Wimbledon (3)||Judy Tegart Dalton||9–7, 7–5|
|1971||US Open (2)||Rosemary Casals||6–4, 7–6|
|1972||French Open||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||6–3, 6–3|
|1972||Wimbledon (4)||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||6–3, 6–3|
|1972||US Open (3)||Kerry Melville Reid||6–3, 7–5|
|1973||Wimbledon (5)||Chris Evert||6–0, 7–5|
|1974||US Open (4)||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||3–6, 6–3, 7–5|
|1975||Wimbledon (6)||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||6–0, 6–1|
|Year||Championship||Opponent in Final||Score in Final|
|1963||Wimbledon||Margaret Smith Court||6–3, 6–4|
|1965||U.S. Championships||Margaret Smith Court||8–6, 7–5|
|1968||US Open||Virginia Wade||6–4, 6–2|
|1969||Australian Open||Margaret Smith Court||6–4, 6–1|
|1969||Wimbledon||Ann Haydon Jones||3–6, 6–3, 6–2|
|1970||Wimbledon||Margaret Smith Court||14–12, 11–9|
|Year||Championship||Partnering||Opponents in Final||Score in Final|
|1961||Wimbledon||Karen Hantze Susman|| Jan Lehane O'Neill|
Margaret Smith Court
|1962||Wimbledon (2nd)||Karen Hantze Susman|| Sandra Reynolds Price|
Renee Schuurman Haygarth
|5–7, 6–3, 7–5|
|1964||U.S. Championships||Karen Hantze Susman|| Margaret Smith Court|
Lesley Turner Bowrey
|3–6, 6–2, 6–4|
|1965||Wimbledon (3rd)||Maria Bueno|| Françoise Durr|
|1967||Wimbledon (4th)||Rosemary Casals|| Maria Bueno|
Nancy Richey Gunter
|9–11, 6–4, 6–2|
|1967||U.S. Championships (2nd)||Rosemary Casals|| Mary Ann Eisel|
Donna Floyd Fales
|4–6, 6–3, 6–4|
|1968||Wimbledon (5th)||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
Ann Haydon Jones
|3–6, 6–4, 7–5|
|1970||Wimbledon (6th)||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
|1971||Wimbledon (7th)||Rosemary Casals|| Margaret Smith Court|
Evonne Goolagong Cawley
|1972||French Open||Betty Stöve|| Winnie Shaw|
Christine Truman Janes
|1972||Wimbledon (8th)||Betty Stöve|| Judy Tegart Dalton|
|6–2, 4–6, 6–3|
|1973||Wimbledon (9th)||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
|6–1, 4–6, 7–5|
|1974||US Open (3rd)||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
|7–6, 6–7, 6–4|
|1978||US Open (4th)||Martina Navratilova|| Kerry Melville Reid|
|1979||Wimbledon (10th)||Martina Navratilova|| Betty Stöve|
|5–7, 6–3, 6–2|
|1980||US Open (5th)||Martina Navratilova|| Pam Shriver|
|Year||Championship||Partnering||Opponents in Final||Score in Final|
|1962||U.S. Championships||Karen Hantze Susman|| Maria Bueno|
|4–6, 6–3, 6–2|
|1964||Wimbledon||Karen Hantze Susman|| Margaret Smith Court|
Lesley Turner Bowrey
|1965||Australian Championships||Robyn Ebbern|| Margaret Smith Court|
Lesley Turner Bowrey
|1–6, 6–2, 6–3|
|1965||U.S. Championships (2nd)||Karen Hantze Susman|| Carole Caldwell Graebner|
Nancy Richey Gunter
|1966||U.S. Championships (3rd)||Rosemary Casals|| Maria Bueno|
Nancy Richey Gunter
|1968||French Open||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
Ann Haydon Jones
|7–5, 4–6, 6–4|
|1968||US Open (4th)||Rosemary Casals|| Maria Bueno|
Margaret Smith Court
|4–6, 9–7, 8–6|
|1969||Australian Open (2nd)||Rosemary Casals|| Margaret Smith Court|
Lesley Turner Bowrey
|1970||French Open (2nd)||Rosemary Casals|| Françoise Durr|
Gail Sherriff Chanfreau
|6–1, 3–6, 6–3|
|1973||US Open (5th)||Rosemary Casals|| Margaret Smith Court|
|3–6, 6–3, 7–5|
|1975||US Open (6th)||Rosemary Casals|| Margaret Smith Court|
|7–5, 2–6, 7–6|
|1976||Wimbledon (2nd)||Betty Stöve|| Chris Evert|
|6–1, 3–6, 7–5|
|1979||US Open (7th)||Martina Navratilova|| Betty Stöve|
|Year||Championship||Partnering||Opponents in Final||Score in Final|
|1967||French Championships||Owen Davidson|| Ann Haydon Jones|
|1967||Wimbledon||Owen Davidson|| Maria Bueno|
|1967||U.S. Championships||Owen Davidson|| Rosemary Casals|
|1968||Australian Open||Dick Crealy|| Margaret Smith Court|
|1970||French Open (2nd)||Bob Hewitt|| Françoise Durr|
Jean Claude Barclay
|1971||Wimbledon (2nd)||Owen Davidson|| Margaret Smith Court|
|3–6, 6–2, 15–13|
|1971||US Open (2nd)||Owen Davidson|| Rob Maud|
|1973||Wimbledon (3rd)||Owen Davidson|| Janet Newberry|
|1973||US Open (3rd)||Owen Davidson|| Margaret Smith Court|
|6–3, 3–6, 7–6|
|1974||Wimbledon (4th)||Owen Davidson|| Lesley Charles|
|1976||US Open (4th)||Phil Dent|| Frew McMillan|
|3–6, 6–2, 7–5|
|Year||Championship||Partnering||Opponents in Final||Score in Final|
|1966||Wimbledon||Dennis Ralston|| Ken Fletcher|
Margaret Smith Court
|4–6, 6–3, 6–3|
|1968||French Open||Owen Davidson|| Françoise Durr|
Jean Claude Barclay
|1975||US Open||Fred Stolle|| Rosemary Casals|
|1977||US Open (2nd)||Vitas Gerulaitis|| Frew McMillan|
|6–2, 3–6, 6–3|
|1978||Wimbledon (2nd)||Ray Ruffels|| Frew McMillan|
|1978||US Open (3rd)||Ray Ruffels|| Frew McMillan|
|1983||Wimbledon (3rd)||Steve Denton|| John Lloyd|
|6–7, 7–6, 7–5|
|No.||Week of||Tournament Name and Location||Surface||Opponent in Final||Score in Final|
|1.||August 7, 1960||Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Grass||Carole Caldwell Graebner||6–1, 6–0|
|2.||July 24, 1961||Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships, Merion, U.S.||Grass||Justina Bricka||6–3, 6–4|
|3.||July 31, 1961||Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, Pennsylvania, U.S. (2)||Grass||Edda Buding||6–3, 6–4|
|4.||April 3, 1962||Pasadena Metropolitan Tournament, Pasadena, California, U.S.||Hard||Carole Caldwell Graebner (2)||6–3, 3–6, 9–7|
|5.||April 1, 1963||Pasadena Metropolitan Tournament, Pasadena, California, U.S. (2)||Hard||Patricia Cody||6–2, 6–2|
|6.||May 6, 1963||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Darlene Hard||6–4, 6–3|
|7.||July 8, 1963||Irish Championships, Dublin||Grass||Carole Caldwell Graebner (3)||6–4, 6–3|
|8.||February 17, 1964||University of Arizona Invitational Tennis Tournament, Tucson, U.S.||Hard||Vicky Palmer||2–6, 6–1, 6–0|
|9.||April 20, 1964||Ojai Valley Tournament, Ojai, California, U.S.||Hard||Julie Heldman||3–6, 6–1, 6–4|
|10.||July 27, 1964||Eastern Grass Court Championships, South Orange, New Jersey, U.S.||Grass||Nancy Richey Gunter||7–5, 3–6, 8–6|
|11.||August 10, 1964||Essex County Club Invitational, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, U.S.||Grass||Karen Hantze Susman||6–4, 4–6, 11–9|
|12.||April 19, 1965||Ojai Valley Tournament, Ojai, California, U.S. (2)||Hard||Kathleen Harter||6–4, 6–2|
|13.||May 3, 1965||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S. (2)||Hard||Kathleen Harter (2)||6–3, 6–1|
|14.||May 17, 1965||California State Championships, Portola Valley, U.S.||Hard||Rosemary Casals||6–2, 8–6|
|15.||July 19, 1965||Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships, Merion, U.S. (2)||Grass||Carole Caldwell Graebner (4)||6–1, 6–2|
|16.||July 26, 1965||Eastern Grass Court Championships, South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. (2)||Grass||Jane Albert||7–5, 6–3|
|17.||August 15, 1965||Essex County Club Invitational, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, U.S. (2)||Grass||Carol Hanks Aucamp||6–3, 10–8|
|18.||February 14, 1966||U.S. Indoor Championships, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, U.S.||Indoor||Mary Ann Eisel||6–0, 6–2|
|19.||March 14, 1966||Thunderbird Invitational Tennis Tournament, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.||Hard||Mary Ann Eisel (2)||6–3, 6–2|
|20.||March 28, 1966||South African Tennis Championships, Johannesburg1||Hard||Margaret Smith Court||6–3, 6–2|
|21.||April 18, 1966||Ojai Valley Tournament, Ojai, California, U.S. (3)||Hard||Rosemary Casals (2)||6–2, 6–4|
|22.||May 2, 1966||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S. (3)||Hard||Tory Ann Fretz||6–3, 10–8|
|23.||May 16, 1966||U.S. Hard Court Championships, La Jolla, California, U.S.||Hard||Patti Hogan||7–5, 6–0|
|24.||May 23, 1966||Tulsa Invitational Tennis Championship, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.||Clay||Carol Hanks Aucamp (2)||6–0, 6–1|
|25.||May 30, 1966||North of England Championships, Manchester, United Kingdom||Grass||Winnie Shaw||6–2, 6–1|
|26.||June 20, 1966||Wimbledon, London||Grass||Maria Bueno||6–3, 3–6, 6–1|
|27.||August 8, 1966||Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, New York, U.S.||Grass||Karen Krantzcke||6–2, 6–0|
|28.||February 13, 1967||U.S. Indoor Championships, Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Trudy Groenman Walhof||6–1, 6–0|
|29.||February 27, 1967||Pacific Coast Indoor Tennis Championships, San Rafael, California, U.S.||Indoor||Patti Hogan (2)||10–8, 7–5|
|30.||March 20, 1967||South African Tennis Championships, Johannesburg (2)||Hard||Maria Bueno (2)||7–5, 5–7, 6–2|
|31.||May 1, 1967||California State Championships, Portola Valley, U.S. (2)||Hard||Rosemary Casals (3)||6–1, 6–3|
|32.||May 8, 1967||Charlotte Invitation Tennis Tournament, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.||Clay||Peaches Bartkowicz||6–1, 6–2|
|33.||June 26, 1967||Wimbledon, London (2)||Grass||Ann Haydon Jones||6–3, 6–4|
|34.||July 31, 1967||Eastern Grass Court Championships, South Orange, New Jersey, U.S. (3)||Grass||Kathleen Harter (3)||4–6, 6–2, 6–3|
|35.||August 14, 1967||Essex County Club Invitational, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, U.S. (3)||Grass||Kerry Melville Reid||8–6, 6–1|
|36.||August 28, 1967||U.S. Championships, New York City||Grass||Ann Haydon Jones (2)||11–9, 6–4|
|37.||September 18, 1967||Pacific Southwest Championships, Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Rosemary Casals (4)||6–0, 6–4|
|38.||October 30, 1967||South American and Argentine Tennis Championships, Buenos Aires, Argentina||Clay||Rosemary Casals (5)||6–3, 3–6, 6–2|
|39.||November 27, 1967||Victorian Championships, Melbourne, Australia||Grass||Lesley Turner Bowrey||6–3, 3–6, 7–5|
|40.||January 1, 1968||Western Australia Championships, Perth||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (2)||6–2, 6–4|
|41.||January 8, 1968||Tasmanian Championships, Hobart, Australia||Grass||Judy Tegart Dalton||6–2, 6–4|
|42.||January 15, 1968||Australian Championships, Melbourne, Australia||Grass||Lesley Turner Bowrey (2)||6–3, 3–6, 7–5|
|43.||February 12, 1968||New England Women's Invitational Indoor Tennis Championships, Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.||Indoor||Mary Ann Eisel (3)||6–3, 6–4|
|44.||February 19, 1968||U.S. Indoor Championships, Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S. (3)||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (6)||6–3, 9–7|
|45.||February 26, 1968||Long Island Indoor (round robin), Brookville, New York, U.S.||Indoor|| Rosemary Casals (7)|
Mary Ann Eisel (4)
|46.||April 8, 1968||National Tennis League Professional Tour, Cannes, France||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (8)||10–6|
|47.||April 15, 1968||National Tennis League Professional Tour, Paris||???||Ann Haydon Jones (3)||9–7, 6–4|
|48.||April 29, 1968||Wembley Professional Lawn Tennis Tournament, London||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (4)||4–6, 9–7, 7–5|
|49.||June 24, 1968||Wimbledon, London (3)||Grass||Judy Tegart Dalton (2)||9–7, 7–5|
|50.||July 15, 1968||National Tennis League Professional Tour, Los Angeles, U.S.||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (5)||12–10, 6–3|
|51.||August 5, 1968||National Tennis League Professional Tour, Binghampton, New York, U.S.||???||Rosemary Casals (9)||10–8, 6–4|
|52.||February 24, 1969||International Pro Tennis Invitational, Hayward and Oakland, California, U.S.||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (6)||6–3, 6–2|
|53.||February 27, 1969 (played)||International Pro Tennis Invitational, Portland, Oregon, U.S.||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (7)||6–3, 6–3|
|54.||March 3, 1969||International Pro Tennis Invitational, Los Angeles, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (8)||17–15,2 6–3|
|55.||March 31, 1969||South African Open, Johannesburg (3)||Hard||Nancy Richey Gunter (2)||6–3, 6–4|
|56.||April 14, 1969||Natal Open, Durban, South Africa||Hard||Annette Van Zyl DuPlooy||6–4, 6–1|
|57.||July 7, 1969||Irish Open, Dublin (2)||Grass||Virginia Wade||6–2, 6–2|
|58.||August 4, 1969||Saint Louis Professional Tournament, Saint Louis, Missouri, U.S.||Indoor ?||Rosemary Casals (10)||6–4, 6–2|
|59.||August 4, 1969||Masters Tennis Tournament, Binghampton, New York, U.S. (2)||???||Ann Haydon Jones (9)||10–8, 3–6, 6–4|
|60.||September 8, 1969||Cal-Neva Professional Tennis Tournament, Incline Village, Nevada, U.S.||???||Rosemary Casals (11)||6–0, 6–4|
|61.||September 22, 1969||Pacific Southwest Open, Los Angeles, U.S. (2)||Hard||Ann Haydon Jones (10)||6–2, 6–3|
|62.||September 29, 1969||Midland Racquet Club Invitational, Midland, Texas, U.S.||???||Rosemary Casals (12)||6–3, 6–3|
|63.||November 24, 1969||Stockholm Indoor Open, Stockholm, Sweden||Indoor||Julie Heldman (2)||9–7, 6–2|
|64.||March 16, 1970||Dunlop International, Sydney, Australia||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (3)||6–2, 4–6, 6–3|
|65.||March 30, 1970||Cape Town, South Africa||???||Rosemary Casals (13)||6–1, 6–0|
|66.||April 6, 1970||Natal Open, Durban, South Africa (2)||Hard||Margaret Smith Court (4)||6–4, 2–6, 6–2|
|67.||April 20, 1970||Italian Open, Rome3||Clay||Julie Heldman (3)||6–1, 6–3|
|68.||November 2, 1970||Virginia Slims Invitational, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.||Indoor (clay)||Nancy Richey Gunter (3)||6–3, 6–3|
|69.||November 16, 1970||Embassy Indoor Tennis Championships, Wembley Arena, London||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (11)||8–6, 3–6, 6–1|
|70.||January 4, 1971||British Motor Car Invitational (Virginia Slims), San Francisco, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (14)||6–3, 6–4|
|71.||January 11, 1971||Billie Jean King Invitational (Virginia Slims), Long Beach, California, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (15)||6–1, 6–2|
|72.||January 18, 1971||Virginia Slims Professional Tennis Tournament, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (16)||6–3, 6–2|
|73.||January 25, 1971||Virginia Slims Invitational, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (17)||1–6, 7–6, 6–4|
|74.||February 2, 1971||Virginia Slims Invitational, Sewanee and Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (12)||6–4, 6–1|
|75.||February 23, 1971||U.S. Indoor Championships (Virginia Slims), Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S. (4)||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (18)||4–6, 6–2, 6–3|
|76.||March 15, 1971||Kmart Invitational (Virginia Slims), Rochester and Troy, Michigan, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (19)||3–6, 6–1, 6–2|
|77.||April 19, 1971||Virginia Slims Invitational, San Diego, California, U.S.||???||Rosemary Casals (20)||4–6, 7–5, 6–1|
|78.||May 17, 1971||German Open, Hamburg, West Germany||Clay||Helga Niessen Masthoff||6–3, 6–2|
|79.||July 12, 1971||Rothmans North of England Tennis Championships, Hoylake, United Kingdom||Grass||Rosemary Casals (21)||6–3, 6–3|
|80.||July 19, 1971||Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel||Clay||Laura Rossouw||6–2, 4–6, 7–5|
|81.||August 2, 1971||Virginia Slims International, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Indoor||Kerry Melville Reid (2)||6–4, 4–6, 6–1|
|82.||August 9, 1971||U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.||Clay||Linda Tuero||6–4, 7–5|
|83.||August 30, 1971||US Open, New York City (2)||Grass||Rosemary Casals (22)||6–4, 7–6(2)|
|84.||September 13, 1971||Virginia Slims Invitational, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.||???||Rosemary Casals (23)||6–1, 4–6, 6–3|
|85.||September 27, 1971||Virginia Slims Thunderbird Invitational, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.4 (2)||Hard||Rosemary Casals (24)||7–5, 6–1|
|86.||October 25, 1971||Embassy Indoor Championships (British Indoors), Wembley Arena, London||Indoor||Francoise Durr||6–1, 5–7, 7–5|
|87.||January 10, 1972||British Motors Pro Tennis Championships (Virginia Slims), San Francisco, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Kerry Melville Reid (3)||7–6, 7–6|
|88.||March 20, 1972||Virginia Slims Invitational, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.5 (2)||Clay (indoor)||Nancy Richey Gunter (4)||6–3, 6–4|
|89.||April 17, 1972||Virginia Slims Conquistadores, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.||Hard||Francoise Durr (2)||6–0, 6–3|
|90.||May 1, 1972||Virginia Slims Indoor, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.||Indoor||Nancy Richey Gunter (5)||6–3, 6–3|
|91.||May 22, 1972||French Open, Paris||Clay||Evonne Goolagong Cawley||6–3, 6–3|
|92.||June 5, 1972||John Player Round Robin, Nottingham, United Kingdom||Grass|| Virginia Wade (2)|
Rosemary Casals (25)
| 6–7, 6–3, 6–4|
6–7, 6–4, 7–5
|93.||June 12, 1972||W.D. & H.O. Wills Open, Bristol, United Kingdom||Grass||Kerry Melville Reid (4)||6–3, 6–2|
|94.||June 26, 1972||Wimbledon, London (4)||Grass||Evonne Goolagong Cawley (2)||6–3, 6–3|
|95.||August 28, 1972||US Open, New York City (3)||Grass||Kerry Melville Reid (5)||6–3, 7–5|
|96.||September 11, 1972||Four Roses Premium Tennis Classic, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.||Clay||Margaret Smith Court (5)||6–2, 6–2|
|97.||September 25, 1972||Virginia Slims Phoenix Thunderbird, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. (3)||Hard||Margaret Smith Court (6)||7–6, 6–3|
|98.||February 19, 1973||Virginia Slims, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. (3)||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (26)||5–7, 6–2, 6–4|
|99.||May 7, 1973||Toray Sillok, Tokyo||Indoor||Nancy Richey Gunter (6)||7–6, 5–7, 6–3|
|100.||June 4, 1973||Gulf Coast Professional Women's Tennis Tournament, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.||???||Francoise Durr (3)||6–3, 7–5|
|101.||June 11, 1973||John Player Tournament, Nottingham, United Kingdom (2)||Grass||Virginia Wade (3)||8–6, 6–4|
|102.||June 25, 1973||Wimbledon, London (5)||Grass||Chris Evert||6–0, 7–5|
|103.||July 30, 1973||Virginia Slims, Denver, Colorado, U.S.||???||Betty Stove||6–4, 6–2|
|104.||October 1, 1973||Thunderbird Classic (Virginia Slims), Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. (4)||Hard||Nancy Richey Gunter (7)||6–1, 6–3|
|105.||October 22, 1973||Virginia Slims of Hawaii, Honolulu, U.S.||Hard||Helen Gourlay Cawley||6–1, 6–1|
|106.||November 19, 1973||Gunze Classic, Tokyo||??? (indoor)||Nancy Richey Gunter (8)||6–4, 6–4|
|107.||January 14, 1974||Virginia Slims, San Francisco, U.S. (3)||Indoor||Chris Evert (2)||7–6, 6–2|
|108.||January 28, 1974||Virginia Slims of Washington, Fairfax, Virginia, U.S.||Indoor||Kerry Melville Reid (6)||6–0, 6–2|
|109.||February 18, 1974||Virginia Slims of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (27)||6–1, 6–1|
|110.||March 18, 1974||Akron Open (Virginia Slims), Ohio, U.S.||Indoor||Nancy Richey Gunter (9)||6–3, 7–5|
|111.||March 25, 1974||U.S. Indoor Championships (Virginia Slims), New York City, U.S. (5)||Indoor||Chris Evert (3)||6–3, 3–6, 6–2|
|112.||August 26, 1974||US Open, New York City (4)||Grass||Evonne Goolagong Cawley (3)||3–6, 6–3, 7–5|
|113.||January 13, 1975||Virginia Slims of Sarasota, Florida, U.S.||Indoor||Chris Evert (4)||6–2, 6–3|
|114.||June 23, 1975||Wimbledon, London (6)||Grass||Evonne Goolagong Cawley (4)||6–0, 6–1|
|115.||March 21, 1977||Lionel Cup, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.||Indoor||Mary Hamm||6–3, 3–6, 6–3|
|116.||April 11, 1977||Lionel Cup, North Hempstead, New York, U.S.||Indoor||Caroline Stoll||6–1, 6–1|
|117.||October 10, 1977||Thunderbirds Tennis Tournament, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S. (5)||Hard||Wendy Turnbull||1–6, 6–1, 6–0|
|118.||October 17, 1977||Sao Paulo, Brazil||Hard (indoor) (?)||Betty Stove (2)||6–1, 6–4|
|119.||October 24, 1977||Borinquen Classic (Virginia Slims), San Juan, Puerto Rico||Hard||Janet Newberry||6–1, 6–3|
|120.||November 21, 1977||Gunze World Tennis Tournament, Kobe and Tokyo, Japan (2)||Hard (indoor)||Martina Navratilova||7–5, 5–7, 6–1|
|121.||December 5, 1977||Bremar Cup, London||Indoor||Virginia Wade (4)||6–3, 6–1|
|122.||September 10, 1979||Toray Sillok, Tokyo (2)||Indoor||Evonne Goolagong Cawley (5)||6–4, 7–5|
|123.||October 29, 1979||Stockholm Open, Sweden||Indoor||Betty Stove (3)||6–3, 6–7, 7–5|
|124.||February 18, 1980||Avon Championships of Detroit, Michigan, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Evonne Goolagong Cawley (6)||6–3, 6–0|
|125.||February 25, 1980||Avon Championships of Houston, Texas, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Martina Navratilova (2)||6–1, 6–3|
|126.||September 8, 1980||Toray Sillok, Tokyo (3)||Indoor||Terry Holladay||7–5, 6–4|
|127.||June 7, 1982||Birmingham, United Kingdom||Grass||Rosalyn Fairbank||6–2, 6–1|
|128.||May 30, 1983||Kentish Times Festival, Beckenham, United Kingdom||Grass||Barbara Potter||6–4, 6–3|
|129.||June 6, 1983||Edgbaston Cup, Birmingham, United Kingdom (2)||Grass||Alicia Moulton||6–0, 7–5|
1 This was the first important singles title of King's career.
2 The crowd of 7,000 booed when a tiebreak was announced at 12–12. Both King and Jones refused to play a tiebreak, and a happy crowd got its moneys worth. King got a standing ovation when she won the 17–15 set.
3 This was the first important clay court title of King's career.
4 With this tournament championship, King became the first woman ever to win more than U.S.$100,000 in prize money during a calendar year.
5 This victory snapped Gunter's 13-match winning streak on indoor clay courts.
|No.||Week of||Tournament Name and Location||Surface||Opponent in Final||Score in Final|
|1.||April or May, 1961||Central California Championships, Sacramento, California, U.S.||???||Carole Caldwell Graebner||???|
|2.||May 8, 1961||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Karen Hantze Susman||6–4, 6–1|
|3.||May 7, 1962||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S. (2)||Hard||Karen Hantze Susman (2)||6–3, 6–4|
|4.||June 24, 1963||Wimbledon, London||Grass||Margaret Smith Court||6–3, 6–4|
|5.||September 16, 1963||Pacific Southwest Championships, Los Angeles, U.S.||Hard||Darlene Hard||6–3, 6–3|
|6.||January 6, 1964||Dallas Indoor Invitational, Texas, U.S.||Indoor||Nancy Richey Gunter||6–2, 7–5|
|7.||May 4, 1964||Southern California Championships, Los Angeles, U.S. (3)||Hard||Carole Caldwell Graebner (2)||7–5, 3–6, 6–1|
|8.||August 3, 1964||Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, New York, U.S.||Grass||Nancy Richey Gunter (2)||6–3, 1–6, 6–4|
|9.||September 28, 1964||Pacific Southwest Championships, Los Angeles, U.S. (2)||Hard||Maria Bueno||3–6, 6–3, 6–3|
|10.||November 23, 1964||New South Wales Championships, Sydney, Australia||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (2)||6–4, 6–3|
|11.||December 28, 1964||South Australian Championships, Adelaide, Australia||Grass||Gail Sherriff Chanfreau Lovera||2–6, 6–4, 6–1|
|12.||August 30, 1965||U.S. Championships, New York City||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (3)||8–6, 7–5|
|13.||February 6, 1967||New England Women's Indoors, Salem, Massachusetts, U.S.||Indoor||Mary Ann Eisel||6–4, 5–7, 11–9|
|14.||December 11, 1967||South Australian Championships, Adelaide, Australia (2)||Grass||Judy Tegart Dalton||4–6, 6–1, 6–4|
|15.||May 13, 1968||National Tennis League, Madison Square Gardens Pro, New York City||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones||6–4, 6–4|
|16.||August 12, 1968||National Tennis League, Colonial Pro Invitational, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.||???||Ann Haydon Jones (2)||6–1, 6–2|
|17.||August 26, 1968||US Open, New York City (2)||Grass||Virginia Wade||6–4, 6–2|
|18.||January 20, 1969||Australian Open, Brisbane, Australia||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (4)||6–4, 6–1|
|19.||June 9, 1969||Wills Open, Bristol, United Kingdom||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (5)||6–3, 6–3|
|20.||June 23, 1969||Wimbledon, London (2)||Grass||Ann Haydon Jones (3)||3–6, 6–3, 6–2|
|21.||October 6, 1969||Howard Hughes Open, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Hard||Nancy Richey Gunter (3)||2–6, 6–4, 6–1|
|22.||October 13, 1969||Professional tournament in connection with dedication of the Sherwood Center, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, U.S.||?||Rosemary Casals||8–6|
|23.||November 17, 1969||British Open Indoor Tennis Championships, Wembley Arena, London||Indoor||Ann Haydon Jones (4)||9–11, 6–2, 9–7|
|24.||February 2, 1970||International Tennis Players Association Indoor Open, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Indoor||Margaret Smith Court (6)||6–3, 7–6|
|25.||March 2, 1970||Maureen Connolly Brinker Memorial Tennis Tournament, Dallas, Texas, U.S.||Hard (?)||Margaret Smith Court (7)||1–6, 6–3, 11–9|
|26.||March 23, 1970||South African Open, Johannesburg||Hard||Margaret Smith Court (8)||6–4, 1–6, 6–3|
|27.||June 22, 1970||Wimbledon, London (3)||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (9)||14–12, 11–9|
|28.||February 15, 1971||International Tennis Championships (Virginia Slims), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.||Clay||Francoise Durr||6–3, 3–6, 6–3|
|29.||March 22, 1971||Virginia Slims Invitational, New York City, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (2)||6–4, 6–4|
|30.||April 12, 1971||World Championship (Virginia Slims), Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||???||Ann Haydon Jones (5)||7–5, 6–4|
|31.||June 14, 1971||London Grass Courts Tennis Championships, Queen's Club, London, United Kingdom||Indoor wood & outdoor grass||Margaret Smith Court (10)||6–3, 3–6, 6–3 (grass)|
|32.||August 16, 1971||Virginia Slims Clay Court Championship, Lake Bluff, Illinois, U.S.||Clay||Francoise Durr (2)||6–4, 6–2|
|33.||November 29, 1971||International Lawn Tennis Championship, Christchurch, New Zealand||Grass||Francoise Durr (3)||6–3, 6–0|
|34.||January 31, 1972||Virginia Slims International, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S. (2)||Clay||Chris Evert||6–1, 6–0|
|35.||March 6, 1972||Maureen Connolly Brinker International Ladies Championship (Virginia Slims), Dallas, Texas, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Nancy Richey Gunter (4)||7–6, 6–1|
|36.||April 3, 1972||Virginia Slims, Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.||Clay||Marie Neumannova Pinterova||6–4, 6–3|
|37.||August 14, 1972||Virginia Slims, Denver, Colorado, U.S.||Outdoor||Nancy Richey Gunter (5)||1–6, 6–4, 6–4|
|38.||August 21, 1972||Virginia Slims Grass Court Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.||Grass||Margaret Smith Court (11)||6–4, 6–1|
|39.||September 18, 1972||Golden Gate Pacific Coast Tennis Classic, Oakland, California, U.S.||Hard||Margaret Smith Court (12)||6–2, 6–4|
|40.||March 5, 1973||Virginia Slims, Chicago, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Margaret Smith Court (13)||6–2, 4–6, 6–4|
|41.||April 9, 1973||Virginia Slims of Massachusetts, Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.||Indoor||Margaret Smith Court (14)||6–2, 6–4|
|42.||August 6, 1973||Commerce Union Bank Classic (Virginia Slims), Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.||???||Margaret Smith Court (15)||6–3, 4–6, 6–2|
|43.||November 19, 1973||Lady Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.||Indoor||Rosemary Casals (3)||3–6, 7–6(5–3), 6–4|
|44.||January 21, 1974||Virginia Slims of Mission Viejo, Palm Springs, California, U.S.||Hard||Chris Evert (2)||6–3, 6–1|
|45.||April 22, 1974||Virginia Slims, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Indoor||Olga Morozova||7–6(5–2), 6–1|
|46.||January 6, 1975||Virginia Slims, San Francisco, U.S.||Indoor||Chris Evert (3)||6–1, 6–1|
|47.||April 14, 1975||L'Eggs World Series of Tennis, Austin, Texas, U.S.||Hard||Chris Evert (4)||4–6, 6–3, 7–6(5–2)|
|48.||June 16, 1975||Eastbourne International, Eastbourne, United Kingdom||Grass||Virginia Wade (2)||7–5, 4–6, 6–4|
|49.||March 28, 1977||Family Circle Cup, Hilton Head, South Carolina, U.S.||Clay||Chris Evert (5)||6–0, 6–1|
|50.||October 31, 1977||Colgate Series Championships, Rancho Mirage, California, U.S.||Hard||Chris Evert (6)||6–2, 6–2|
|51.||January 16, 1978||Virginia Slims, Houston, Texas, U.S.||Indoor||Martina Navratilova||1–6, 6–2, 6–2|
|52.||February 27, 1978||Virginia Slims, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.||Indoor||Martina Navratilova (2)||7–5, 2–6, 6–3|
|53.||March 27, 1978||Virginia Slims, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. (2)||Indoor||Chris Evert (7)||6–0, 6–4|
|54.||July 23, 1979||Buenos Aires Orbas, Argentina||Indoor||Martina Navratilova (3)||6–3, 6–4|
|Australia||A||A||A||A||A||A||SF||A||A||W||F||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A / A||A||A||A||A||QF||2R||A||1 / 5|
|France||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||QF||SF||QF||QF||A||W||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||QF||A||3R||A||A||1 / 7|
|Wimbledon||A||A||2R||QF||F||SF||SF||W||W||W||F||F||SF||W||W||QF||W||A||QF||QF||QF||QF||A||SF||SF||A||6 / 21|
|United States||1R||3R||2R||1R||4R||QF||F||2R||W||F||QF||A||W||W||3R||W||A||A||QF||A||SF||A||A||1R||A||A||4 / 18|
|SR||0 / 1||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 3||1 / 2||2 / 3||2 / 4||0 / 4||0 / 2||1 / 2||3 / 3||1 / 2||1 / 2||1 / 1||0 / 0||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 0||0 / 4||0 / 2||0 / 0||12 / 51|
A = did not participate in the tournament
SR = the ratio of the number of singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.
|Australia||A||A||A||A||A||A||F||A||A||SF||F||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A / A||A||A||A||A||SF||SF||A||0 / 5|
|France||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||QF||F||QF||F||A||W||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||1R||QF||A||A||A||1 / 7|
|Wimbledon||A||A||W||W||2R||F||W||QF||W||W||3R||W||W||W||W||QF||SF||F||2R||QF||W||SF||A||2R||3R||A||10 / 22|
|United States||A||A||A||F||QF||W||F||F||W||F||SF||A||A||SF||F||W||F||QF||QF||W||F||W||A||3R||SF||QF||5 / 20|
|SR||0 / 0||0 / 0||1 / 1||1 / 2||0 / 2||1 / 2||1 / 3||0 / 2||2 / 3||1 / 4||0 / 4||1 / 2||1 / 1||2 / 3||1 / 2||1 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||1 / 2||1 / 2||1 / 3||0 / 1||0 / 3||0 / 3||0 / 1||16 / 54|
A = did not participate in the tournament
SR = the ratio of the number of singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.
|Australia||A||A||A||A||A||A||QF||A||A||W||SF||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH/NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||1 / 3|
|France||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||W||F||SF||W||A||QF||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||2R||A||A||A||2 / 6|
|Wimbledon||A||A||A||A||A||2R||A||F||W||SF||QF||3R||W||SF||W||W||3R||2R||SF||F||3R||QF||A||3R||F||A||4 / 18|
|United States||A||A||A||2R||SF||QF||A||A||W||A||3R||A||W||SF||W||SF||F||W||F||F||2R||A||A||2R||2R||3R||4 / 17|
|SR||0 / 0||0 / 0||0 / 0||0 / 1||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 1||3 / 3||1 / 3||0 / 4||1 / 2||2 / 2||0 / 3||2 / 2||1 / 2||0 / 2||1 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 1||11 / 44|
A = did not participate in the tournament
SR = the ratio of the number of singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played
NH = event not held
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.
King's overall win-loss record at Wimbledon was 96–15 .865 in 21 years (1961–1975, 1977–1980, 1982–1983). (Her win total includes one walkover but does not include any first round byes.)
King was 6–3 in finals, 9–5 in semifinals, and 14–6 in quarterfinals. King failed to reach the quarterfinals only once, in 1961 during her first Wimbledon. After receiving a bye during the first round, King lost to the fifth seed, Yola Ramirez Ochoa, in the second round.
King was 23–7 in three set matches, 73–8 in two set matches, and 5–1 in deuce third sets, i.e., sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King was seeded 18 times out of 21 years. (Wimbledon seeded 8 players from at least 1961 through 1976, 12 players in 1977, and 16 players from 1978 through the end of King's career.)
King was 31–15 .674 against seeded players. She never lost to an unseeded player (65–0). Her worst loss was to #8 seed Olga Morozova in 1974.
Against her major rivals at Wimbledon, King was 4–2 versus Ann Haydon Jones, 3–0 versus Rosemary Casals, 3–0 versus Virginia Wade, 3–0 versus Francoise Durr, 3–1 versus Evonne Goolagong Cawley, 3–1 versus Maria Bueno, 2–3 versus Margaret Smith Court, 2–3 versus Chris Evert, 1–0 versus Christine Truman Janes, 1–0 versus Hana Mandlikova, 1–1 versus Olga Morozova, 1–1 versus Tracy Austin, and 0–1 versus Martina Navratilova.
King's overall win-loss record at the United States Championships/Open was 63–14 .818 in 18 years (1959–1969, 1971–1974, 1977, 1979, 1982). She was 55–11 on grass, 5–2 on hard courts, and 3–1 on clay. (Her win total does not include any first round byes. Her loss total includes two retirements.)
King was 4–2 in finals, 6–1 in semifinals, and 7–3 in quarterfinals.
King was 8–4 in three set matches, 55–10 in two set matches, and 4–1 in deuce third sets, i.e., sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King was seeded 14 times out of the 18 years she entered the tournament.
King was 12–8 .600 against seeded players and 51–6 .895 against unseeded players.
Against her major rivals at the United States Championships/Open, King was 3–1 versus Virginia Wade, 2–0 versus Maria Bueno, 2–0 versus Ann Haydon Jones, 2–0 versus Rosemary Casals, 1–0 versus Evonne Goolagong Cawley, 1–0 versus Francoise Durr, 1–1 versus Margaret Smith Court, 1–2 versus Chris Evert, 0–1 versus Christine Truman Janes, and 0–2 versus Nancy Richey Gunter.
King's overall win-loss record at the French Championships/Open was 22–6 .786 in 7 years (1967–1970, 1972, 1980, 1982). (Her win total does not include any first round byes but does include one walkover.)
King was 1–0 in finals, 1–1 in semifinals, and 2–4 in quarterfinals. She failed to reach the quarterfinals only once, in 1982 when she lost to Lucia Romanov in the third round.
King was 3–3 in three set matches, 19–3 in two set matches, and 1–0 in deuce third sets, i.e., sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King was seeded all 7 years she entered the tournament.
King was 5–3 .625 against seeded players and 17–3 .850 against unseeded players.
Against her major rivals at the French Championships/Open, King was 1–0 versus Virginia Wade, 1–0 versus Maria Bueno, 1–0 versus Evonne Goolagong Cawley, 1–1 versus Helga Niessen Masthoff, 0–1 versus Lesley Turner Bowrey, and 0–1 versus Nancy Richey Gunter.
King's overall win-loss record at the Australian Championships/Open was 16–4 .800 in 5 years (1965, 1968, 1969, 1982, 1983). (Her win total does not include any first round byes.)
King was 1–1 in finals, 2–1 in semifinals, and 3–1 in quarterfinals.
King was 5–1 in three set matches, 11–3 in two set matches, and 1–0 in deuce third sets, i.e., sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.
King was seeded all 5 years she entered the tournament.
King was 6–3 .667 against seeded players and 10–1 .909 against unseeded players.
Against her major rivals at the Australian Championships/Open, King was 1–0 versus Kerry Melville Reid, 1–0 versus Judy Tegart Dalton, 1–0 versus Evonne Goolagong Cawley, 1–0 versus Ann Haydon Jones, 1–2 versus Margaret Smith Court, and 0–1 versus Chris Evert.