Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King’s first glimpse at her destiny was in, of all places, the family kitchen. At the age of five, washing dishes with her mother, Billie Jean shared a dream. As she recalls, "I had this flash come over me that I'd do something great with my life. I told my mom, and she just said, 'Okay, that's fine, dear, just keep washing.' And I said, in the way a five-year-old would say it, 'No Mom, you don't get it, I mean it.'"
More than anyone, King was the role model for the 1972 passage of Title IX, a piece of legislation designed to ensure women equal opportunities in sports. In 1971, one in 27 girls participated in high school sports. By 1997, that figure was one in three. Studies reveal that women who play sports enjoy a wide range of benefits, from increased self-esteem to greater academic achievement. The sport of tennis burst into a movement known as "Women's Lob." Life magazine would subsequently honor King as one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th century.
Yet for all her battle scars, in conversation King comes across, more eager to discuss the latest book on the best-seller list. "As a tennis player, I was a hothead. I'm pretty soft elsewhere."
Billie Jean Moffitt was born on Nov
"Being a women athlete didn't mean much in the '60s," she says. Billie Jean's fame even spilled into pop culture. Though Riggs loved playing the pig role, it was King who brought home the bacon. Billie Jean balanced college at Cal State Los Angeles and tennis for three years, until 1964 when she dropped out to try to make a living at her sport. Billie Jean asked for a divorce in 1969, but backed off when Larry convinced her that it was worth holding on. Billie Jean had a good attitude towards helping other people and she had an OK relationship with the media. "By November 1985, Billie Jean and Larry agreed to divorce. Corporate America rejected her, costing King an estimated 1. "No one likes being outed--in anything. In 1971, Billie Jean found out she was pregnant. "I'm probably still getting over that," she says. That same year, when King was the top woman player in the world, participating in over two dozen tournaments, she earned only 7,000. Millions more were watching on network television, with countless wagers suddenly making tennis the subject of gossip and front-page headlines. Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old who'd once been the number-one player in the world, believed women belonged in the kitchen and the bedroom, not on the playing fields. "Our opinion on Billie Jean King is that she was a great leader and had a very good influence on woman"tms rights and she influenced many women athletes to go for what they love the most.