Envisioning a world in which men and women compete in sports together on a team with both genders making equal contributions to the result, Billie Jean King co-founded the inclusive World TeamTennis (WTT) organization in 1974.
Working with co-founders Larry King, Fred Barman, Jordon Kaiser, Dennis Murphy, and Frank Fuhrer, Billie Jean developed a league format featuring a unique, four-colored tennis court and teams comprised of at least two men and two women.
WTT is the first professional sports league to give equal weight to each man and woman competing for their teams.
Billie Jean was both the player and coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms team, founded by Dick and Ken Butera in 1973. She became the first woman to coach a professional sports team that included male players.
Good friend and Freedoms fan Elton John was inspired to write and record the song “Philadelphia Freedom” as a tribute to Billie Jean and her new team, and the Freedoms adopted it as their anthem.
Billie Jean became the first woman commissioner in pro sports history when she took the helm of WTT and became its major owner in 1984. She retired as league Commissioner in February 2001.
Showcasing the best in professional tennis, World TeamTennis features many of the world’s top players competing annually for the championship King Trophy, named after Billie Jean.
Since the League’s debut, virtually every major champion of the Open era has played WTT, including Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Stefanie Graf, Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert.
40 Seasons of Gender Equality
Under current CEO and Commissioner Ilana Kloss, WTT became the fifth major professional team sports league in the U.S. to reach the 40th season milestone in July 2015, joining the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball.
In 2017, Billie Jean sold her majority share in WTT to team owners Mark Ein and Fred Luddy. She remains involved as a minority owner of the league and majority owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms franchise.
Based on a concept of gender equity, World TeamTennis remains the only professional sports league where men and women have equal roles.