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World Team Tennis: Rubbing Elbows with
Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King and NU alums
Tennis Coach Kayla Chamberlain, class of 2010, and Zane Buckley, class of 2013,
meet tennis legend Billie Jean King.

 

The Philadelphia Freedoms hosted a group of Neumann students, staff and alumni on July 15, the opening match of the team’s 2014 season. Tennis legend Billie Jean King mingled with the group during a private, courtside reception before the match. She even signed an old wooden racket for Dr. Bob Bunnell, dean of the Continuing Adult and Professional Studies Division.

 

Dr. Bob Bunnell with Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King signed an old, wooden tennis racket for Bob Bunnell, dean of Continuing Adult and Professional Studies.

In a career that spanned two decades (1961-79), King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles: six Wimbledon, four U.S. Open, one French and one Australian. Including doubles and mixed doubles, she won 20 Wimbledon titles in all.

 

Off the court, Billie Jean King fought for equal prize money for men and women and in 1971 became the first female athlete to win more than $100,000. This campaign for equality is most notably remembered by her 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match against 55-year-old tennis champ Bobby Riggs, who claimed the women’s game to be inferior. The match drew considerable publicity and, before a worldwide television audience of some 50 million, King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

 

In 1974, King became the first president of the Women's Tennis Association.  She headed up the first professional women’s tour, the Virginia Slims, in the 1970s and was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

 

Members of the Freedoms, including tennis star Victoria Azaranka, joined King for photos with NU tennis coach Kayla Chamberlain, and Sport and Entertainment Management majors.

 

The Freedoms sent the crowd home happy in their home opener against the San Diego Aviators, defeating the west coast team, 19-18. Victoria Azarenka, the tenth ranked women’s player in the world, made her marquee appearance with the Freedoms against the Aviators. The Belarusian participated in women’s doubles, women’s singles, and lastly mixed doubles.

 

Victoria Azarenka with NU students and staff
Victoria Azarenka, one of the top ten women tennis players in the world, poses with students and staff at the Philadelphia Freedoms opening match.

 

 


7/23/14

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