Billie Jean King is one in every of tennis’ unique revolutionaries however her affect has been felt far past her personal sport.
The American nice not solely fought for equality for ladies’s tennis, together with serving to to safe equal pay on the US Open, however she impressed a era of athletes to struggle for fairness in their very own sports activities, whereas additionally excelling on the court docket herself.
One star who benefited from King’s exceptional profession is US snowboarding legend Lindsey Vonn.
Vonn, who retired from skilled snowboarding in 2019 as probably the most profitable girls’s racer of all-time – her compatriot Mikaela Shiffrin has since damaged that report – is aware of a factor or two about battling for equality herself, however says the 39-time grand slam winner has continued to encourage her personal struggle.
“Billie Jean is, I believe, simply the epitome of what a robust lady can do on the earth when working onerous. She’s been simply this pillar of equality,” Vonn informed CNN Sport’s Coy Wire.
“She’s such an icon and he or she has by no means stopped working in the direction of equality. And he or she’s not younger anymore, however she continues to be working simply as onerous as she was when she was beginning the WTA.”
This yr marks the fiftieth anniversary of the US Open providing equal prize cash for women and men, and King was honored throughout an on-court ceremony on the opening evening of the match on Monday.
King and Vonn have been each on the ceremony which acknowledged the work that King, and others, did to safe fairness in 1973, the yr the WTA was based by the tennis legend.
“I’m so impressed by her at all times. She’s such, once more, such an inspiration to me and so many ladies. I simply don’t have anything however respect and reward for her,” Vonn added.
“I ask her on a regular basis, like: ‘How do you journey a lot? You’re simply nonstop.’ And he or she’s like: ‘I’ve to maintain going.’ And it’s simply so spectacular. She’s received some dedication. I like it.”
Vonn wrote an op-ed for the US Open web site during which she detailed her personal battle for equality and respect.
Within the article, she referenced King’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ in 1973 – a tennis match towards former males’s world No. 1 Bobby Riggs after he claimed he might beat the highest feminine gamers of the day.
He was 55 on the time of the match and a 29-year-old King gave an enormous enhance within the girls’s battle for equality by beating Riggs in entrance of an estimated viewers of 90 million folks worldwide.
“… However Billie Jean was an enormous inspiration to me, somebody that I at all times seemed as much as, my father at all times pointed her out and the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ was one thing that I actually tried to do in my profession.
“I attempted to race towards the lads, and Billie truly gave me some actually good recommendation. However sadly, I didn’t do as a lot as like in my profession as Billie Jean, however I’m nonetheless engaged on it and making an attempt my greatest. And he or she’s simply been an unbelievable inspiration to all girls.”