In the early 1900’s many people were strongly opposed to woman taking part in competitive sport as it was feared that it would make them less feminine. Just over one hundred years later women like Elana Meyer, Natalie du Toit and Caster Semenya have become household names in South Africa. Currently, in the game of tennis, anyone can name at least a handful of female players including Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Caroline Wozniacki. In today’s society we take woman’s sport and female athletes for granted but there have been a number of pioneers who have paved the way for women in sport. One such woman is Billie Jean King. The youth of today might not be familiar with this extraordinary woman and as such I pose the question; what role did Billie Jean King play in elevating woman’s sports?
King’s Life and Career Highlights
Billie Jean Moffit was born in California on November 22, 1943. She married Lawrence King in 1965 but the couple divorced in 1987. After her divorce King admitted that she was homosexual. She became one the world’s greatest female tennis players, winning 39 grand slam titles in her career from 1961 to her retirement in 1990. This is the third highest number of Grand slam titles won by a single athlete ever. The reason for her enormous amount of grand slam titles is because she won singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles. Her record will probably not be beaten soon, as modern day tennis players specialize in only one of the three titles. In her youth, King had always been an avid softball player and started playing tennis after her parents decided she should partake in a more feminine sport. After her first lesson she knew that tennis was what she wanted to play for the rest of her life.