ESPN HistoryStarting 5

#TBT: Billie Jean King on ESPN

Billie Jean King (left) joins Dick Schaap on the set of ESPN Classic's Schaap One-on-One show. (E.H Wallop)
In June 2000, Billie Jean King joined host Dick Schaap on the set of ESPN Classic’s Schaap One-on-One show. (E.H Wallop)

About a week after ESPN launched in 1979, Billie Jean King won the 122nd of her 129 career tournaments, an event in Tokyo.

Still going strong – just like ESPN – the International Tennis Hall Of Famer visits the Bristol, Conn., campus today for a “Car Wash” with live appearances on SportsCenter and other tapings.

Her influence has extended far beyond the court as she continues to be an advocate for equality.

ESPN tennis analyst Pam Shriver looks back at what King has meant to the sport and her personally.

“When my then-eight-year-old daughter last year chose Billie Jean as her second-grade biography project, I was thrilled her values of equality and inclusivity were being passed along to another generation,” Shriver said.

King won a record 20 championships at Wimbledon. ESPN airs coverage of the fortnight of The 2015 Championships, Wimbledon, from June 29 through July 12.

In addition, King is the co-founder of World Team Tennis. The circuit’s 40th season begins next month, with extensive coverage on ESPN3.

“One of tennis’s greatest gifts is that in Long Beach back in the 1950s, Billie Jean chose our wonderful lifetime sport to pursue,” Shriver added. “Her special leadership and pioneering spirit only comes around once every few generations for any sport.

“I feel blessed to have played tennis against and with, been coached by, served on boards alongside, and attended countless charity events together with Billie Jean.”