Tennis icon Billie Jean King and her longtime partner Ilana Kloss have joined the Los Angeles Dodgers as co-owners, according to an announcement from Major League Baseball Inc. and the Dodgers Thursday.
“As someone born, raised and educated in Southern California, it is an honor to be part of the Dodger ownership group,” King said in a press release “Mark Walter and the entire Dodger organization are a first-class operation that have proven to be leaders in sports on and off the field of play. We share a commitment to equality and inclusion, including the LGBTQ community, and we hope to further expand the team’s efforts in those areas as we move forward together.”
King, 75, and Kloss, 62, are former professional tennis players who have previous ownership-level experience in the World TeamTennis league the Mercury News reported. King, a Long Beach native, is famous for advocating for equal pay for women and beating Bobby Riggs in a singles match in 1973 dubbed “The Battle Of The Sexes.”
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by then President Barack Obama, King was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 after a professional career in which she won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon championships. In 2006, she became the first woman to have a major sports venue named in her honor when The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y., was rededicated as The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in recognition of her accomplishments on and off the court.
Dodgers’ owner and chair Mark Walter called King and Kloss “trailblazing athletes, social advocates and businesswomen.”
Walter added: “Just like Billie Jean and Ilana, the Dodger franchise has a history of and commitment to breaking barriers, inclusion and winning, and we’re looking forward to them continuing to promote these attributes within our organization.”
Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred lauded the pair for their social leadership, especially on LGBTQ issues.
“Major League Baseball is pleased to welcome Billie Jean King and her partner, Ilana Kloss, to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group,” Manfred said. “Billie Jean King is a true American trailblazer who has tirelessly championed for gender pay equality, LGBTQ rights and diverse, inclusive workforce leadership. Through her groundbreaking efforts, she has earned some of the most highly regarded recognitions available to athletes and advocates. Ilana Kloss is well-known for being both a professional tennis player and for her work as the chief executive officer and commissioner of World TeamTennis. We are excited to have them both join the National Pastime.”
Reporting by the Mercury News and the staff of the Los Angeles Blade.