23 January 2020

Tennis legend and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King takes top spot on list of women who changed the world in the last century

Legendary tennis champion Billie Jean King has been named No 1 on a list of 'Women Who Changed The World in the Last Century'.

A list of ten inspirational females (and groups of females) was composed to celebrate 100 years since the passing of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote in the USA.

Twelve-time singles Grand Slam Champion, King, who famously defeated notable mysogenist Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes", has long been a pioneer for gender equality and social justice.

During her playing career she campaigned heavily for equal prize money in the women's and men's game and formed a group of nine female players supported by World Tennis magazine, in order to promote her beliefs.

The former World No 1 made headlines in 1972 when she became the first female athlete to win over US$100,000 in prize money but said she would not play the next year unless the $15,000 difference between her prize money and that of male champion Ilie Năstase was made up.

As a result, the 1973 US Open became the first Grand Slam to offer men and women equal prize money.

Since retiring from singles in 1973, the tennis champion has continued to campaign for gender equality and social justice and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in recognition for her advocating for women's right as well as the right of the LGBTQA+ community.

Billie Jean King on the way to the Wimbledon title (PA Images)

Among others on the list are Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo and non-stop across the Atlantic; Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest and first women to conquer the "Seven Summits" and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel into space.

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