Billie Jean King to Be Honored with Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at Sports Illustrated Awards

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  • Billie Jean King
    Billie Jean King
    American tennis player
  • Naomi Osaka
    Japanese tennis player
Stars at Wimbledon
Stars at Wimbledon

ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King will receive the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at this year's Sports Illustrated Awards.

The trailblazing tennis icon will be honored with the award at the ceremony presented by Pepsi Stronger Together from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida, on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award presented by Alkaline88 celebrates "individuals whose dedication to the ideals of sportsmanship has spanned decades and whose career in athletics has directly or indirectly impacted the world."

Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza will present the award to King on Tuesday. Past recipients have included John Cena and Colin Kaepernick.

King, who holds 39 Grand Slam titles, opens up about the honor in Sports Illustrated's upcoming Dec. 16 issue and discusses her role in the birth of women's professional tennis.

In 1970 King, along with eight other female athletes dubbed the "Original Nine," signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis Magazine, to compete independently of male tennis players, at the $7,500 Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston.

RELATED: Naomi Osaka Praised by Billie Jean King for Discussing Mental Health: 'Kids Need That'

Says former U.S. Women's National Soccer team captain Julie Foudy to Sports Illustrated of the impact of King's actions across the sports world, "In women's sports for so long, you were told to shut up and just be grateful. And then we stopped shutting up, in large part because Billie's like, 'No, it's on you. You make the change. You as players demand better.' … She really was the catalyst."

King's modern contemporaries, like current tennis great Naomi Osaka, also praise her as worthy of the Muhammad Ali honor.

Osaka tells PEOPLE, "Billie is an icon and paved the way for women like me to have the careers we have. More importantly, she is a great person and friend and has always looked out for me in good times and bad."

The annual Sports Illustrated Awards will be hosted by DJ Khaled and Cari Champion, and feature a musical performance from 2Chainz. Other expected attendees include Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and Candace Parker.

RELATED: Billie Jean King Reveals Her 'Secret' 2018 Marriage and Thoughts on New Generation's 'Fluid' Sexuality

The Sportsperson of the Year will be revealed at the awards show and across the publication's social media channels, a first for Sports Illustrated. Past winners have included Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, and LeBron James.

The awards will stream live at 8 p.m. EST on Dec. 7 on Sports Illustrated's social channels, via LiveXLive and on SportsIllustratedAwards.com.