Billie Jean King Shirt for the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup
Billie Jean King championed women’s rights and equality throughout her life. A pioneer in tennis, King was also a tireless activist both on and off the court – often remembered for beating Bobby Riggs in their iconic match known as “The Battle of the Sexes.” However, her fight to break barriers for female athletes didn’t begin and end there 50 years ago.
She earned 39 Grand Slam singles titles over her career and was world number one for more than 20 years, establishing the Women’s Tennis Association – helping establish professional leagues for women – as well as advocating for equal prize money at US Open championships between male and female winners; pushing for equal prize money between genders at this tournament, and being instrumental in creating World Team Tennis co-ed circuit which gave more girls access to sports.
King became an iconic figure through her actions off the court, especially those present on September 20, 1973 when King and Riggs participated in what would later become known as “Battle of the Sexes.” It became the most-watched sports event ever on television and marked a new era for women’s tennis.
King has been deeply engaged with the production of her play, reworking its script to ensure all those who helped her along her journey are acknowledged in it. She regularly attends workshops and readings, surprising La Jolla Playhouse actors with an unexpected visit on May 18 for some rehearsal time and even appearing for scenes!
She spoke candidly with her audience, discussing how Wimbledon’s all-white dress code, originally implemented to conceal sweat stains, can cause undue anxiety among female players who are on their periods. Although manufacturers are beginning to introduce clothes that can help alleviate some of these discomforts, menstruation still has not been completely disregarded from sport.
Tory Burch will design a jacket specifically for the 2023 champions of the Billie Jean King Cup to honor Tory as she leads the fight for gender equality in sport and beyond. It is an appropriate tribute for someone who has made such a profound mark on tennis and beyond.