Billie Jean King, Doctor of Laws

One day at the age of eleven you turned to your mother and, with racket in hand, said, “I’m going to be number one in the world.” You had no way of knowing at that innocent age in how many ways that would become true. You were indeed ranked the world’s number one women’s tennis player five times based on thirty-nine Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles, including a record twenty of them at Wimbledon. But that turned out to be just the start. You practically invented women’s professional sports. You were the first player to lobby for and obtain equal prize money for women. You were the force behind the launch of the Women’s Tennis Association, the first female sports commissioner in history, and the first woman to have a major sports venue named after her. In 1973 in the Houston Astrodome you competed in and won one of the most watched sporting events in world history—the legendary Battle of the Sexes. Battling turns out to be what you do best, especially for the expansion of opportunities for women and the protection of gay and lesbian rights. No future history of the advancement of these issues in our time can be written without appreciating the contributions of the icon who went on from the age of eleven to not only be the best but do the best.

I hereby declare you recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Laws, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

June 2, 2013