King has been one of the driving forces behind equity in sports and beyond for more than five decades. As a catalyst to start a professional tour for women’s tennis in the early 1970s, and now with her partner Ilana Kloss, King finds economic opportunities for women in sports and challenges corporations and leagues to commit investment and sponsorship funds equally. King and Kloss will discuss future prospects in this space, including how name image and likeness might impact women athletes, and their own use of a platform and resources to lead in the area of generational change.
“There are few people who have been at the forefront of change the way Billie Jean King has been, and she and Ilana Kloss have spent decades thinking about how to turn momentum into a legacy of equity,” said McManus. “We are so excited to welcome them to Seton Hall to discuss the way those efforts will impact the generation here on campus and beyond.”
Named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation. In her legendary tennis career, King captured 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon championships. Her historic win over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 Battle of the Sexes, is said to be one of the greatest moments in sports history.
In 2018, King received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. In 2021, she received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award and the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. King is an Adidas Global Ambassador and is the Honorary Lifetime President of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and a past member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Her recent memoir, ALL IN: An Autobiography, was a New York Times bestseller.
Ilana Kloss is the CEO of Billie Jean King Enterprises, where she leads business development and oversees strategic partnerships. Previously, Kloss served as the CEO and commissioner of World TeamTennis, managing both the professional sports league and nationwide grassroots recreational programs. A former world No. 1 doubles player and U.S. Open doubles champion, Kloss is actively involved in the Women’s Sports Foundation as a member of the executive board and past board chair. Kloss serves on the executive board of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and as a senior advisor to the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.
Both King and Kloss are part of the ownership groups of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Angel City FC and the Los Angeles Sparks.
“We are very excited to have Billie Jean King and Illana Kloss as guests at Seton Hall University and the Center for Sports Media,” said Joseph Martinelli, who is slated to become the interim dean of the newly configured and combined colleges of education and human services and communication and the arts at Seton Hall. “Billie Jean transcends the world of sports and is a global ambassador for not only women’s athletics but for equity and human rights as well. Our students are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from her.”
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