On November 30, Billie Jean King was presented with the Aspen Institute 2011 Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership. This program was moderated by Christine Brennan, Sports Columnist, USA Today
An innovator in the area of sports and social change, Billie Jean King has created new inroads for both genders in and out of sports during her legendary career. The winner of 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon, she was named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life Magazine. King was one of nine players who broke away from the tennis establishment in a move that led to the birth of women’s professional tennis and the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and the Women’s Tennis Association. She also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and co-founded World Team Tennis, a ground-breaking co-ed professional tennis league. Her defeat of Bobby Riggs in 1973—dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes”—is still remembered for its effect on society and its contribution to the women’s movement. In 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of King’s contributions to tennis, sports and society, both on and off the court.
Billie Jean King has received numerous other honors including being named a Global Mentor for Gender Equality by UNESCO, receiving in 2009 the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.