Breaking barriers

Tennis icon Billie Jean King reflects on her life and legacy

30 Nov 2017

In 1973, the year tennis icon Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match, women on average earned less than 60 cents on the dollar. The gender pay gap has since narrowed to about 79 cents. Today, King is among those leading the fight to close it.

"We need to do the right thing," says King, noting that the business world can play a major role in promoting equality and inclusion in the workplace. "Some companies are doing the right thing."

King—whose fight for equal pay and recognition for women in tennis is chronicled in the 2017 film “Battle of the Sexes”—recently sat down with Paula Polito, Client Strategy Officer of UBS Wealth Management Americas, for a conversation before clients about King's life and legacy.

Asked what advice she wished she'd known earlier, King stressed the importance of learning throughout one's life. "Everybody talks about mistakes all the time. I call it feedback," she said. "So the next time I get the ball, I try to correct what I did wrong the first time."

While King is best known for her 1973 victory over Riggs, her accomplishments are numerous—from winning 39 Grand Slam titles, to being ranked No. 1 in women's tennis six times, to becoming the first female athlete awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Today, the tennis star and equality activist is building a legacy of empowerment for future generations as the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving diverse and inclusive leadership in the workforce.

"People who do well in life notice something isn’t quite right," King said. "They figure it out, and they get the solution."

What do you want your legacy to be? Together we can find an answer. Connect with your UBS Financial Advisor or find one.