This year marked two special occasions for 39-time Grand Slam champion King. Firstly, it was the 50th anniversary of equal prize money being offered at the US Open. This occurred after King earned significantly less than her male counterpart for winning the Slam in 1972, leading her to threaten a boycott if the earnings were not made the same.
2023 also marks fifty years since her victory over Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, and since King co-founded the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).
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Gauff recognizes King's impact
Therefore, it is clear that the 79-year-old has had a huge impact on the sport over the last half a century. This is something that Gauff recognized when she won her first Grand Slam at this year's US Open.
After the 19-year-old received a winner's cheque of $3 million, she thanked King for fighting for equal prize money at the New York major, something which was eventually implemented across all four Grand Slams.
In a recent interview, the World No. 3 expanded on her praise of the tennis legend by reflecting on King's influence in the sport and in society.
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"Bille Jean King fought for the prize money for women’s tennis and what she has done is incredible. She took a stance on something where the odds were completely against her. If you look at everything that we have today, it all came from someone like her," she said.
King also recently reflected on Gauff's success, referencing the young star's grandmother.
"When I see her, she's the reason we fought so hard 50 years ago. I think she's such a force. It comes from her grandmother. Her grandmother was the first Black child to go to an all-white school in Delray.
"To hear her story, if you're a granddaughter and you're hearing your grandmother talk about going to a white school, being the only Black child, I think she's such a force. I want her to be happy, number one. She's really exciting to watch and a great athlete," she said.