In the realm of both sports and social progress, Ilana Kloss is a name that resonates. Renowned for her stellar tennis career, which saw her secure 19 Grand Slam doubles titles, Kloss’s influence extends further. Notably, her marriage to the iconic US tennis player Billie Jean King added another layer to her legacy.

Beyond the courts, Kloss’s dedication to championing gender equality and her pivotal role in tennis administration showcase a life devoted to breaking boundaries. This article not only explores her exceptional tennis journey but also delves into the profound personal and societal impact she continues to make.

How Old Is Ilana Kloss? Her Age, Early Life

Ilana Sheryl Kloss, born on March 22, 1956, in Johannesburg, South Africa, making her 67 years old as of 2023 has made significant contributions to the world of tennis and beyond. A former professional tennis player, accomplished tennis coach, and the commissioner of World TeamTennis from 2001 to 2021, Kloss’s impact spans various domains.

While her birthplace and Jewish heritage form an integral part of her identity, Kloss has chosen to keep details about her parents, siblings, and early life away from the media’s scrutiny. Instead, her focus remains on her dynamic career and her efforts to promote tennis and gender equality.

How Did She First Meet Her Wife Billie King?

In 1966, a significant chapter unfolded in the lives of Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King. It was during a tennis event at Ellis Park in Johannesburg that their paths converged.

At the time, Kloss was working as a ballgirl, and fate had orchestrated this encounter. Kloss held a deep admiration for King’s remarkable tennis prowess, and the opportunity to witness her play in person was one she eagerly seized.

Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King have been together for over four decades.
Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King have been together for over four decades. Source: Pinterest

Reflecting on that pivotal moment, Kloss shared her memories on the Women’s Tennis Association website in 2020.

“We’d all fight to ballgirl for her — especially at the net where we’d get more work,” Kloss wrote.

Kloss further emphasized,

“It was electrifying. She was a serve-and-volleyer and she was all-in. That’s something I’ve seen her be throughout her life — everything she takes on is 100%.”

Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss Tied The Knot After 40 years

With the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss found themselves observing friends embarking on the journey of matrimony. It was during this time that the iconic “Rocket Man” singer, Elton John, took on an unexpected role in their story.

Elton John’s own quick dash to the altar with David Furnish after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.K. inspired him to encourage King and Kloss to consider marriage. Meanwhile, Cleo Kinnaman got divorced after coming out as a lesbian.

In her 2021 memoir, “All In,” King revealed,

“Elton had run to the altar with David Furnish soon after same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.K., and he started nudging Ilana and me to consider it. He even offered to sing at our wedding if we’d take the plunge.”

King and Kloss’s hesitation about marriage was rooted in King’s complex feelings toward the institution itself. Fellow tennis legend John McEnroe added his playful persuasion to the mix. Also, know about another lesbian couple Kristy McNichol and Martie Allen, who have been together for over four decades.

King recounted,

“John McEnroe saw me at Elton’s Smash Hit fund-raiser in Las Vegas and needled me: ‘C’mon, Billie Jean! Why not get married? Wrap it up and put a bow on it already!’ “

A Secret Union to Honor Activism

Finally, on October 18, 2018, King and Kloss made their commitment official. Opting for a secret ceremony, they chose to honor the activists who fought for marriage equality.

Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King on their private wedding ceremony.
Ilana Kloss and Billie Jean King on their private wedding ceremony. Source: Pinterest

The clandestine event took place at the Manhattan apartment of former New York Mayor David Dinkins, who also officiated the ceremony. The only witnesses present were his wife, Joyce Dinkins, and an aide.

In her memoir, King humorously recounted the untraditional nature of the event. “Nobody threw rice or smashed wedding cake in the other’s face,” she wrote. One of the brides donned jeans and a vibrant red scarf, while the other sported a black shirt, a cozy warm-up suit, and pearls – a touch of glamour that has become a teasing point of memory between the two.

Ilana Sheryl Kloss: A Glittering Tennis Odyssey

Before stepping onto the professional tennis stage, Ilana Sheryl Kloss had already left her mark as a rising star. In 1972, she clinched the Wimbledon Juniors singles title, foreshadowing her future triumphs. Her prowess extended beyond the singles game, as she partnered with Linky Boshoff to secure the SA doubles title in 1973, 1975, and 1977.

Young Ilana Kloss celebrating her win.
Young Ilana Kloss celebrating her win. Source: Pinterest

Kloss’s journey also led her to the Maccabiah Games in Israel, where she shone brightly, clinching gold in singles, women’s doubles (with Helen Weiner), and mixed doubles in the 1973 Maccabiah Games. Her tennis prowess continued to flourish, as evidenced by her victory in the US Open juniors singles title in 1974.

Rapidly ascending the ranks, Kloss made history by becoming the youngest No. 1 player in South African tennis. Her prowess was not confined to singles, as she excelled in doubles, earning the top ranking in the world in 1976. That year, she claimed an array of doubles titles, including those at prestigious events like the US Open, the Italian Open, and the French Open’s mixed doubles.

Extended Career Journey

Kloss’s journey in the tennis world extended to her active participation in the Federation Cup as part of the South African team from 1973 to 1977. Her contribution was significant, amassing a commendable win-loss record.

A true trailblazer, Kloss’s achievements led to her induction into the US National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, followed by the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, reflecting her Jewish heritage and her remarkable tennis career.

Her venture into World Team Tennis (WTT) was equally impactful. As a player, coach, and executive, Kloss played a pivotal role in shaping the league. Her coaching acumen came to the fore in 1983 when she guided the Chicago Fyre to a WTT Championship, earning her the Coach of the Year title.

This was followed by her tenure as the vice president of WTT in 1987 and later as its executive director in 1991. Since 2001, Kloss has held the reins as the chief executive officer and commissioner of World Team Tennis, further solidifying her legacy in the sport.

Net Worth

With a career spanning the courts and the boardrooms of tennis administration, Ilana Kloss has not only left an enduring impact on the sport but has also amassed a notable fortune. Moreover, her remarkable journey as a former tennis player has translated into financial success, reflected in her estimated net worth of $10 million.

It’s worth noting that Kloss’s wife, the renowned Billie Jean King, also boasts an impressive net worth of $20 million. As a legendary figure in the world of tennis, King’s remarkable career has been punctuated by 39 Grand Slam titles, including singles, mixed doubles, and women’s doubles victories.

As one of the sport’s greatest players, she also claimed the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships, solidifying her legacy as an icon in the tennis world.

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