King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974. She was named one of the 20th Century’s “100 Most Important Americans” by Life magazine in 1990. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. King is the honorary chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has served two previous terms on the board as a trustee (1983-87, 1996-97). She formerly served on the finance and strategic planning committees. On August 28, 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the U. S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in honor of her contributions to tennis, sports and society both on and off the court, making her the first U.S. woman to have a sports stadium named after her. King received the International Olympic Committee Women in Sport World Trophy in September 2003. She won 71 singles and 21 doubles titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon titles. She remains one of the most illustrious players in tennis history. She achieved the world’s highest ranking five times between 1966 and 1972 and held a place in the top 10 for a total of 17 years. In 1973, she defeated Bobby Riggs in straight sets to win the landmark “Battle of the Sexes” match. Retiring from the sport in 1983, King remains one of only eight women to have won a singles title in each of the four Grand Slam tournaments. In 1999, King received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in recognition of her work for social change and also became the first woman to be given the NFL Players Association Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1998, she was the first athlete to be awarded with the Elizabeth Blackwell Award, which is given to women whose lives exemplify outstanding service to humanity.
In 1997, she received the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Flo Hyman Award. She was honored with the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to helping others in 1994. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1990), The International Tennis Hall of Fame (1987) and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1980). She was the first woman to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, in 1972. King coached the Olympic gold-medal-winning 1996 and 2000 U.S. women’s tennis teams and captained the U.S. Fed Cup team from 1995 to 1996 and from 1998 to 2003, leading the United States to the title in 1999 and 2000. She co-founded World TeamTennis (WTT) in 1974, which continues today as a 12-team professional league. King also has worked extensively as a commentator on ABC, CBS, CTV, HBO and NBC. A founder of the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973, she was its first president from 1973 to 1975 and again from 1980 to 1981. In order to promote equality of life and opportunity for all, she set up the Billie Jean King WTT Charities Foundation in 1998 and remains on its board of trustees. She lends charitable support to the fight against AIDS, acting as a director of both the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National AIDS Fund.
King is the first woman to have a major sporting venue named in her honor, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.