Women&039;s Tennis Association

“When will all this sexism stop?” said Tyrone, when Pointless Letters reached out for comment. “I mean, women go on and on about stuff like wage gaps and body shaming and sexualisation and rape and glass ceilings and all that, but really, who are the real victims of sexism today, eh? You tell me that.”

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APRIL 27 - BILLIE JEAN KING

In 1961, Billie Jean King and Karen Hantze Susman made sports headlines by becoming the youngest pair to win the Wimbledon women’s doubles titles. Throughout her tennis career, she went on to win 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles and 11 mixed doubles titles.

She was adamant about fighting for equal pay for women within the tennis world. In 1973, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association, and while at the height of her career, she threatened to boycott the U.S. Open if the pay inequality was not addressed. This led to the 1973 U.S. Open becoming the first tournament to offer equal cash prizes for both women and men.

Later that year, she competed against Bobby Riggs in a historic “Battle of The Sexes” match. In a practically cartoonish gesture of male chauvinism, the 1939 Wimbledon champion insisted that the women’s tennis game was so inferior that, even at 55 years old, he could beat the top female players. After Riggs easily defeated Australian champion Margaret Court, King accepted his challenge and proceeded to defeat him in front of an estimated television audience of 50 million viewers.

King’s influence extended beyond the court when, in 1981, a lawsuit filed by her former lover and personal assistant Marilyn Barnett outed her to the public. Though she may not have been prepared to discuss her sexuality at the time, she became the first prominent female professional athlete to openly acknowledge that she is a lesbian.

After divorcing her husband in 1987, King settled in with her life partner Ilana Kloss, and they remain together to this day. She has been very involved with the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and in 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work advocating for women and the LGBT community.