Billie Jean King Biography

Biography by Published on Updated on 10 Sep, 2017
Facts of Billie Jean King
Date of Birth: 1943 , November-22
Age: 77 years old
Birth Nation: United States of America
Height: 5 feet 5 inch
Birth Name Billie Jean King
Nationality American
Birth Place/City Long Beach
Ethnicity White
Profession Tennis player
Working For NBA
Net Worth $16 million
Eye Color Blue
Hair Color Drack brown
Face Color White
Body Measurements 34-24-32
Breast Size 34B
Waist size 24
Hip Size 32
Affair with Marilyn Barnett
Married Yes
Married to Larry King (1965)
Divorce Larry King
Movies Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World, Kate Clinton: 25th Anniversary Tour, Legends of Wimbledon: Billie Jean King
Books Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes, MORE
View more / View Less Facts of Billie Jean King


Billie Jean King is a Tennis Icon who dominated women’s tennis with 39 Grand Slam -12 singles, 12 doubles and 11 mixed doubles titles. She has recorded 129 wins in 183 finals in non-Grand Slam events. She has also famously defeated the American tennis champion, Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes." Further, Billie was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times' Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award.

Early Life and Education

The former world No. 1 professional tennis player, Billie Jean, was born on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California, US. She was born to parents Bill Moffit, a fireman, and Betty, a homemaker. Her father, Bill, was offered a tryout for an NBA team before pursuing a career in a firefighter.

Billie isn’t the only person in his family who has athletic talent. Her younger brother, Randy Moffitt, only sibling, is a Major League Baseball pitcher. She has done her schooling from the Long Beach Polytechnic High School.

Following her education, Billie graduated from the California State University, Los Angeles. As a child, Billie’s favorite sport was softball.  She even played shortstop for 14- and 15-year-old girls’ team at the age of 10 and won the city championship. 

However, Billie shifted her focus on tennis and started playing at the Long Beach public courts after her parents suggested her to learn tennis. Regarding her nationality and ethnicity, King is a white and holds American citizenship. 

Professional Career

In the year 1959, Billie made her Grand Slam debut at the US Championships, facing defeat from Justina Bricka in the first round. The following year, she won the Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships. She defeated Nancy Richey Gunter in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

In the year, Billie also lost to Karen Hantze Susman in the quarterfinals of the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships. Defeating Darlene Hard in the final, she claimed her Southern California Championships title for the first time.

At Wimbledon, Billie overcame, Maria Bueno in the quarterfinals and Ann Haydon-Jones in the semifinals before defeating the top-seeded Margaret Court in the final. Margaret Court was her nemesis during most of her 1964 matches. She even lost to Margaret in the Wimbledon semifinals in two sets.

The same year, Billie also decided to become a full-time tennis player. After a year, she faced defeat in the semifinals of the Australian Open and the Wimbledon. At the Australian Championships, she suffered a disheartening loss in the semifinals in two sets.

At Wimbledon, King again suffered a demoralizing loss to Maria Bueno in the semifinals in three sets. King lost to Court in the finals of U.S. Open, after being in a winning position. The following year, she won grand slam title for the first time after overpowering Maria Bueno in the final at Wimbledon. 

In the South African Tennis Championships, King lost to multi-time champion Margaret Court in the final before defeating Virginia Wade and Ann Haydon-Jones at the Washington Cup. Facing thirteen unsuccessful attempts to win a Grand Slam singles title, she eventually won the first of her six singles titles at Wimbledon at the young age of 22.

At the time, King also won the twelve Grand Slam singles titles for the first time, after overpowering Court in the semifinals and Maria Bueno in the final. In 1967, she also successfully won the South African Tennis Championships, after she overcame Maria Bueno in the final.

The same year, King also made her first appearance in the French Championships but lost to Annette Van Zyl DuPlooy in the quarterfinals. She then successfully defended her second title at Wimbledon, the U.S. Championships.

King significantly won the women's doubles and mixed doubles titles at both the events. She won three consecutive tournaments to end her Australian tour in early 1968. Defeating Margaret Court in the final, she won the Western Australia Championships.

King also recovered to win third consecutive Wimbledon singles title, overpowering Jones in the semifinals and Dalton in the final. However, she couldn’t retain her U.S Open title. In the year 1971, she won only one Grand Slam for the singles title. The year was the best year of her career as she emerged victorious in 17 of the 31 tournaments that she played, with a record of 112-13 match.

King won five Grand Slam singles titles including three U.S. Opens and two Wimbledon between 1973 and 1980. In the year 1983, it was stated that King announced her retirement from competitive singles after losing to Catherine Tanvier in the second round in the Australian Open.

But, King continued to play doubles for seven more years.  King was selected to become the captain of the United States Fed Cup team and coach of its women's Olympic tennis squad. In the year 1996, she guided the U.S to the Fed Cup championship and added 3 Olympic gold medals.

Awards and Major Achievements

King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 as well as included into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1999. She became the receiver of the 1999 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Further, Public Justice Foundation also has given the Champion of Justice Award to King and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. She also received an award from GLAAD and was also inducted into the California Hall of Fame and the Southern California Tennis Hall of Fame.

In 1973, King received $1 million after winning the Battle of the Sexes tennis match against Bobby Riggs. The event was organized in the middle of the Virginia Slims of Houston tournament and was watched by more than 50 million on TV.

King overpowered the fourth seeded Australian born, Evonne Goolagong Cawley by 6-0, 6-1 in the 1975 Wimbledon finals. The match lasted only 19 minutes and King finally quoted her performance was “near perfection” in the match.

Personal Life

Billie Jean King had shared married life with her college boyfriend, Larry King in the year 1965. Although it was announced in 1969 that King was gay, the couple divorced after more than 23 years of their married life.

After King realized that she was interested in women in the year 1968, she was attracted to her secretary, Marilyn Barnett and shared a lesbian relationship with her. King sued her for palimony after the relationship became public in a May 1981.

Her secretary, Barnett also filed the lawsuit, which explained that King is the first prominent professional female athlete to come out of the closet as a lesbian.

King said that she couldn’t afford t go in favor of the lawsuit and she  went on stating in an interview:

“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 long-time 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.”

The lawsuit was filed after 26 years and in 2007, King expressed her feelings towards the lawsuit as,

“It was very hard on me because I was outed and I think you have to do it in your own time. Fifty percent 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”

King currently lives in New York and Chicago with her longtime partner, Ilana Kloss. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, former US president, Barack Obama scheduled King and openly gay, ice hockey player, Caitlin Cahow to present the US, in December 2013, in Sochi, Russia.

Net Worth and Body Measurement

The former world No. 1 professional tennis player, Billie Jean King, has earned a hefty amount of money from her successful tennis career. According to the evaluation, King has an estimated net worth around $16 million.

King has won a shade over of $1,966,487 on the tour since she turned professional after 1968. She became the first woman to win over $100,000 in a season of 1971. After a year, she also won the US Open and received $15,000, but the amount was less than men’s champion Ilie Nastase.

King stands at the height of 5 feet 5 inches.