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Tennis legend Billie Jean King gets ownership stake of Dodgers

Billie Jean King and partner Ilana Kloss have become part owners of the Dodgers, and they want to stress LGBTQ inclusion.

Tennis: Wimbledon
Billie Jean King, right, and Illana Kloss at Wimbledon in July.
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Billie Jean King and her partner, Ilana Kloss, have become minority owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team announced today. Terms were not announced.

“As someone born, raised and educated in Southern California, it is an honor to be part of the Dodger ownership group,” King, 74, said in a news 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.”

“I have been fortunate to work closely with Mark and Kimbra Walter on some important projects, and I’m looking forward to being part of the Dodgers’ ownership group and helping the team expand its reach with new audiences,” Kloss said. “I hope to work with the team at a variety of levels and I share the organization’s proven commitment to excellence on the field and in the community.”

King, with 39 Grand Slam titles, is one of the most consequential athletes in history, with her influence felt far beyond simply being a star tennis player. She has been a forceful advocate for both women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. Her famous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match with Bobby Riggs was made into a 2017 film. Since being outed as gay in 1981, King has fought hard for LGBTQ rights.

King and Kloss, herself a former tennis player, have been partners since the late 1980s. King’s younger brother, Randy Moffitt, was a Major League Baseball pitcher for three teams from 1972-83.

Dodgers majority owner and chairman Walter and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred both stressed inclusion in their statements about King’s ownership stake, a sign of a changing culture in the sport.

“Major League Baseball is pleased to welcome Billie Jean King and her partner Ilana Kloss to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ownership group. Billie Jean King is a true American trailblazer who has tirelessly championed for gender pay equality, LGBTQ rights, and diverse, inclusive workforce leadership,” Manfred said.

“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 Team Tennis.”

King and Kloss are the second and third openly LGBTQ people with ownership stakes in an MLB team. Laura Ricketts has been co-owner of the Cubs since 2009. Kevin McClatchy, himself openly gay, used to own the Pittsburgh Pirates. Dodgers senior vice president Erik Braverman is also openly gay.

In addition, King and Kloss are also expected to become minority owners of the Los Angeles Sparks, also owned by Walter’s Guggenheim Partners, pending approval by the WNBA.