After all, this is the same woman who in 1973 beat Bobby Riggs in three straight sets in the "Battle of the Sexes." A longtime advocate against sexism, she was named one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century by Life magazine. She was one of just four athletes on the list, and the only female athlete.
"At the time, it was perfect," King said of the Riggs match in a recent media conference call. "It was 1973, when women still couldn't get a credit card on their own. Title IX had been passed 1972, the year before. But more importantly … it put tennis on the map.
"I think people keep forgetting that the [Assn. of Tennis Professionals] got their first big TV contract after I beat Riggs, and so did the women. We had our explosion of participation in this country after the match. So for the sport alone, it was the difference I think in helping professional tennis in this country, and also recreational tennis. But I also think it helped start changes in minds and hearts of people, that they insist on their daughters and sons having equal opportunity."
World Team Tennis appears to be alive and thriving, in its 35th year. Maria Sharapova and John McEnroe visit Newport Beach Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, and the matches across the nation are full of marquee names like Martina Hingis, Michael Chang, Venus and Serena Williams, James Blake, Andy Roddick, John Isner, Anna Kournikova, Kim Clijsters and the Bryan brothers.
"I think it's going for 35 years because people like it," said King, who won 39 Grand Slam titles. "I think they like the coed. I think they like the fast pace. We have been the innovators of the sport. We've pushed the establishment to make it more fan-friendly at many, many levels."
Davenport, 34, is a marquee player but she's also been an effective one for the Aces. The Laguna Beach resident had won all four of her women's singles matches before she was edged Wednesday night by Vania King. Davenport is fourth in the league in women's singles with a 27-19 games record (.587).
She can help hurt the playoff chances of her old team if she can help the Aces win tonight. The Breakers have already lost four of five matches since a 2-0 start. But anything might go on Ladies Night.