Trailblazer and Changemaker: Billie Jean King

A trailblazer and changemaker on and off the tennis court, Billie Jean King, named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine, has dedicated her life to creating new inroads for women. NCGS proudly announces Billie Jean King will appear at the Global Forum on Girls’ Education® II in Washington, DC on June 18-20, 2018!

During her legendary career, King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles, and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon. In 1974, she founded the Women’s Sports Foundation only one year after defeating Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” match—a moment among the greatest in sports history that empowered women and is remembered for its effect on society and contribution to the women’s movement.

Dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls have access to sports, the Women’s Sports Foundation held the inaugural National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) 32 years ago this month. A celebration of the extraordinary achievements in girls and women’s sports and the positive influence athletic participation brings to their lives, NGWSD recognizes the ongoing effort towards equality and greater access for girls and women in sports.

Creating Leaders Through Sports

“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose—it teaches you about life.”

–Billie Jean King

Young athletes are encouraged to challenge limits, learn to persevere against the odds, build confidence to take healthy risks, and are instilled with courage and conviction. The resilience and grit gained through participation in sports are the same tools girls need to become the confident leaders of tomorrow. The competitive nature of sports fosters teamwork and places an emphasis on being able to perform under pressure—qualities that translate into many facets of life.

A report published by Catalyst found that 82% of the women executives surveyed had participated in sports at one time in their lives beyond the elementary school level. A survey of business leaders from around the world conducted by Ernst & Young revealed that women holding positions at the executive level had participated in sports at the university level more frequently than women who were in manager positions (55% compared to 39%). Nearly 70% of these women executives indicated their involvement in athletics was helpful to career advancement because it prepared them to work better in teams and 76% reported that behaviors learned in the high-performance environments of sports can be applied to the corporate setting.

Working Together

“That’s the way I want the world to look: men and women working together, championing each other, helping each other, promoting each other—we’re all in this world together.”

–Billie Jean King

King not only uses her voice as a social activist on the world stage, she also does hands-on work at the local level. Girls Prep, an NCGS strategic partner for the Global Forum II, is among the many organizations to which King lends her time and talents.

Girls Prep is part of Public Prep, the nation’s only non-profit network that exclusively develops exceptional, tuition-free PreK and single-sex elementary and middle public schools. Students at Girls Prep schools are instilled with the core values of merit, scholarship, sisterhood, and responsibility whether it be in their classroom, on the court, or in their community.

BJK headshot 2013_2_Andrew Coppa Photography

Billie Jean King

Classrooms on Girls Prep campuses are named for famous women who serve as influential role models, reminding the students that hard work can lead to magnificent outcomes. At the Lower East Side Elementary campus, the first-grade students are treated to an annual visit by their classroom “namesake,” Billie Jean King. The girls hear directly from King about her trailblazing accomplishments and discuss their interests and the importance of goal setting. King spotlights the importance of having fun and trying your best—two important concepts that her parents would stress to King after every tennis match.

King has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.; been named a Global Mentor for Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and received the NCAA U.S. President’s Gerald R. Ford Award recognizing her contributions to improving higher education and intercollegiate athletics.

NCGS is honored to welcome this champion of equality for women and girls to the Global Forum on Girls’ Education® II.


Megan Murphy, Executive Director, National Coalition of Girls’ Schools