Tennis Identity

Billie Jean King donates personal archives to the New-York Historical Society

Tennis legend Billie Jean King has donated her personal archives to the New-York Historical Society.  The donation includes photo, scrapbooks, equipment, even her 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom award…the first ever awarded to a female athlete.

Pictured are BJK along with New-York Historical Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer with objects from this King’s collection: a 1999 Fed Cup trophy, adidas sneakers, Wilson and Bancroft wooden tennis rackets, the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom certificate, an Essex Bowl, a Philadelphia Freedoms dress, and a Philadelphia Freedoms racket cover.

Selected items will go on display next spring at the museum’s Center for Women’s History. [Interesting that BJK gave her memorabilia to the NY museum instead of the Tennis Hall of Fame isn’t it? Perhaps she wanted to keep them close to her namesake tennis center. – K.B.]

Billie Jean King and Louise Mirrer

Also included are the lace dress King wore at the 1971 U.S. Open in Forest Hills and at Wimbledon in 1972.

Billie Jean King and Louise Mirrer

BJK helped name the Philadelphia Freedoms, and it inspired Elton John to write a song with the same name– you may have heard it a few times. The two are very good friends who have worked together on tennis projects many times. Elton John is a player himself.

Philadelphia Freedoms dress

Philadelphia Freedoms dress

Below is Billie Jean’s former Wilson racquet. Not much technology here, is there? You could make the case that players back then were more skilled at the game, since they didn’t have super racquets and strings to help blast people off the court.

King Wilson racquet

Here are glasses worn during the 2006 filming of the HBO documentary Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer.

BJK glasses

And BJK in 1958.


Coincidentally, this is all happening around the 43rd anniversary of BJK’s “Battle Of The Sexes” with Bobby Riggs- September 20th, 1973 at the Astrodome.

All photos by Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society.