Billie Jean King | Spotlight

Billie Jean King to receive America’s top civilian honor

Kudos to CSULA alumna...

“Billie Jean King is a remarkable person. Besides her tennis accomplishments, she has been a highly influential advocate for social change and a true inspiration to thousands of people throughout the world. We’re extremely proud and fortunate to list her among our alumni.

“Billie Jean King’s effort has helped hundreds of young men and women earn college degrees while pursuing their competitive dreams of playing college sports. Without the generous support of Billie Jean, the Cal State L.A. Athletics Program would not come close to realizing the levels of academic and competitive success it currently enjoys.”

-- Cal State L.A. Athletics Director Dan Bridges
Picture of Billie Jean King

Cal State L.A. congratulates Billie Jean King – a CSULA alumna, tennis legend and human rights activist – upon her selection to receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Calling King and the 15 other honorees “agents of change,” President Barack Obama praised the recipients for “breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens.” He will present the awards at an Aug. 12 ceremony.

Among the other 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees are former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; leading anti-apartheid activist in South Africa Desmond Tutu; Senator Edward Kennedy; civil rights leader and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Rev. Joseph Lowery; and internationally recognized theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.

You can join us in honoring this extraordinary person at the 12th Annual Billie Jean King and Friends event Oct. 17 in Pasadena. Click for details:

King attended and played tennis at Cal State L.A. from 1961 to 1964. She arrived on campus fresh with the 1961 Wimbledon doubles title. She repeated the feat in 1962 as an undergraduate. In her career, she won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 20 at Wimbledon and 13 at the U.S. Open.

A champion of gender equity in sports and the society, King is widely known for the “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, in which she defeated former Wimbledon men’s tennis champion Bobby Riggs.

In 1986, King was named to Cal State L.A.’s Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 1997, she was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University’s Commencement ceremony.

Since hosting the first “Billie Jean King and Friends” event at Cal State L.A. in 1998, King has helped raise more than $1.8 million to provide scholarships to student-athletes in 11 sports at Cal State L.A., and two endowed scholarships have been created.