ECA’s Sports Diplomacy Division taps into sports’ ability to increase dialogue and cultural understanding between people around the world. The Division uses sports as a platform to expose foreign participants to American culture while providing them with an opportunity to establish links with U.S. sports professionals and peers. In turn, Americans learn about foreign cultures and the challenges young people from other countries face today.
The Sports Visitor program is a two-week U.S.-based active and experiential sports exchange for non-elite youth athletes, coaches, or administrators.
Sports Envoys are athletes and coaches who travel overseas to lead sports clinics and programs that were developed by U.S. embassies and consulates.
Billie Jean’s ascension in the ranks of her sport corresponded with the early years of the women’s movement, and the rising star soon learned she could leverage her success and influence to demand change. She said, “Unless I was number 1, I wouldn’t be listened to.”
She began to campaign relentlessly for equal prize money in the men’s and women’s games.
Joining eight other women tennis players, Billie Jean signed a $1 contract and joined the Virginia Slims Circuit founded by Gladys Heldman in 1970 to protest against the inequity in prize money. This group of brave women, known as the “Original 9,” backed Billie Jean as she formed the Women’s Tennis Association and became its first president. Once the tour took off, King worked tirelessly to promote it.
She co-founded World TeamTennis, the only professional, co-ed team sports league, in 1974.
In 2014, she founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the critical issues required to achieve diverse, inclusive leadership in the workforce.