Published May 22, 2011
BURLINGTON, Vt. – Tennis great Billie Jean King told University of Vermont graduates that relationships are everything because "you never know when you're going to touch another person's life or how they will touch yours."
King recounted to the 3,097 graduates on Sunday how she reluctantly went to a party attended by Elton John and they ended up becoming friends. He wrote "Philadelphia Freedom" in her honor. The song played over the loudspeakers when King concluded her address by hitting more than a dozen tennis balls into the crowd.
The 67-year-old Hall of Famer was honored for her efforts to bring gender equality to sports. She beat former champion Bobby Riggs in a 1973 exhibition match dubbed "The Battle of the Sexes." Later she became a champion of equal rights for gays and lesbians.