Lesbian trailblazer and icon Billie Jean King was one of 12 people inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 17, according to the hall's website.
The Class of 2021 includes coach Dennis Van der Meer and the members of the Original 9: Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, King, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid. The Class of 2020 inductees are Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martínez.
The Original Nine is a nonet of women who launched a group in 1970 to take a stand against a growing disparity in prize money and playing opportunities between men and women in professional tennis.
King commented, "In a time where defying the odds and having a voice is more important than ever, it's extremely rewarding to see the impact the Original 9 made 50 years ago can still be felt around the world today. There were three things we wanted for future generations. First, that they would have a place to compete. Second, that they would be recognized for their accomplishments, not just their looks. And, finally, that they could make a living playing professional tennis. Today's players are living our dream."
Tennis Magazine noted that, collectively, the Original Nine earned less in career prize money than Ashleigh Barty (the current women's top-ranked player in the world) did for winning the 2019 Shisedo WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China. Barty's $4.42 million in prize money from the year-end championships is more than double the $1,966,487 that King made over her 31-year career.
King was an inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1987 and is now doubly enshrined.