Tennis great Billie Jean King, partner join LA Dodgers ownership group

Tennis icon Billie Jean King and her partner Illana Kloss have joined the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group, the team announced Thursday.

King reminisced about her excitement for the baseball team in blue while growing up in Southern California in the mid 1950s, the Los Angeles Times reported.

”I’m totally going to pinch myself … I’m pinching myself already,’’ King told the Times. “When you’re born and raised a Southern California kid, you dream your dreams of coming back, but how could I have ever dreamed of something like this? Joining the Dodgers is my life coming full circle.’’

King said Dodgers owner and chairman Mark Walter and the organization have proven to be leaders in sports on and off the field.

“I know it’s real, but it’s not real,’’ the 74-year-old tennis great told the Times. “This is such a gift. I’m incredibly grateful that Mark saw the value that we can bring, and I hope we can make a difference.’’

Tennis great Billie Jean King, left, laughs during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Jan. 29, 2016.

Tennis great Billie Jean King, left, laughs during an event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Jan. 29, 2016. (Associated Press)

King said she and the Dodgers 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.”

Walter says he’s proud to welcome “two trailblazing athletes, social advocates and business women.”

King and Kloss also will become part of the ownership group of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

“I think everyone at the Dodgers and the Sparks could learn something from her,’’ Walter told the Times. “She can help shape and expand how we promote inclusion and empowerment at both teams and throughout the Los Angeles area.’’

King, Walter and CEO Stan Kasten will hold a news conference Friday at Dodger Stadium.

”I’m totally going to pinch myself … I’m pinching myself already. ... how could I have ever dreamed of something like this? Joining the Dodgers is my life coming full circle.’’

— Billie Jean King, tennis champion

Growing up a Dodgers fan in Long Beach, Calif., her brother, Randy Moffitt, also pitched for 12 seasons in the majors, mostly for the rival San Francisco Giants.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred called King a “true American trailblazer” and “we are excited to have them both join the national pastime.”

In 2014, King and Kloss co-founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, which addresses diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

King and Kloss will join basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson as co-owners of the Dodgers within the Guggenheim Baseball Group.

Johnson is also co-owner of the WNBA's Sparks within the same ownership group and is president of basketball operations for the NBA's LA Lakers, where he played for 13 seasons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.