The announcement was timed to coincide with Equal Pay Day. "Venus, in particular, helped us get equal prize money in the majors. She was amazing. She really got Wimbledon to make the big step," King said in a telephone interview.
"Venus has always had the courage to step up and Serena's the same way. They step up. I mean, Serena is not afraid to say whatever is on her mind." Added King: "They've been through a lot themselves, so they totally understand what's going on. The two of them have transcended sports. The BJKLI is not about sports. It's about every industry. To try to get equal pay for equal work, and that means across the board, from CEOs down to entry level."
The Williams sisters will be in the company of 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick, former NBA player Jason Collins, singer Elton John and CNN's Christiane Amanpour on the BJKLI advisory board.
"We always put our hands up for Billie. We love her. She has a tremendous history, not just in women's tennis, but in leading rights for people, in general, no matter who they were," Venus Williams said. "Billie could be at the point in her life now where she could say, 'Hey, I'm going to sit back and enjoy my life.' But she's still working hard for others. And that's a prime example for every single person. Your work on this earth never ends, as long as there is inequality."
Established in 2014, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) champions the push for equal pay across all types of jobs.