Billie Jean King was not only the finest women’s player of her time—the winner of 39 grand slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles—she was also her sport’s inspirational leader off the court. She was the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, a co-founder of World TeamTennis and a major influence in the formation of the Virginia Slims Professional Tour. Her straight-set victory over Bobby Riggs in the highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973 at the Houston Astrodome before a national television audience gave tennis new popularity and credibility. That same year she campaigned successfully to secure equal prize money for all players at the U.S. Open Championships. Her tireless promotional efforts on behalf of their sport eventually served to advance the cause of all women’s sports and helped secure the passage of Title IX, which extended equal opportunity to women in school athletics.

Inducted into The Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Plaque location: SFO Gate 87

*photo by Russ Adams