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No. 5: Billie Jean King

The Long Beach native didn’t seem so cool then with her cat-rimmed glasses and all that jabbering about ERA (wasn’t that “earned run average?”), but her 1973 straight-sets victory against huckster Bobby Riggs pretty much set everyone straight. King became “cooler” with age, especially when we later found out Elton John’s song, “Philadelphia Freedom,” was dedicated, not to the Liberty Bell, but to King. Equal rights for women, it turned out, was cool. Billie Jean, the king of courts, served society with a brazen openness that turned perspiration into inspiration. Associated Press