Billie Jean King: First Female Athlete-Activist

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Her testimony before Congress in 1972 nearly guaranteed the passage of Title IX, which ended gender discrimination and was hailed as the most important moment in the history of women’s sports. 94 percent of the women in American C-suites do sports as girls, and college athletes like me have had their training in IX. The fact that he said he was paid because of the title is testament to the cross-generational impact of this.

In the ’80s, King’s career slowed, with fewer titles and some commercial disasters, and his life was turned upside down when a lawsuit was filed by a former female lover. King’s trip, in addition to costing him millions of sponsorships, prompted a period of deep introspection and eventually allowed him to deal with lifelong struggles with eating disorders and internalized homophobia, while at the same time seeming to clarify for him the need for the challenge of sport. elitism in a more tactical and deliberate way.

As a teenage girl, she had plagued the working-class boy with his tennis establishment at the stuffy and exclusionary Los Angeles Tennis Club—the dust on everything from sexist dress codes to racist door policies. He had a roadmap for what shape his future activism would take, he definitely saw the way. “There was a gap between what I thought I could do and the world as it was,” King writes. “I saw that abyss clearly. I was less sure how to break it.”

His constant struggle to be involved and his instinct to involve others in the struggle made him a real-time force. However, from these years in the wilderness, especially after the deaths of close friends such as Ashe and Riggs, King began to frame a contemporary activist framework around his leadership.

His efforts over the decades, from mentoring the 1999 US women’s national soccer team that turned their 1999 World Cup victories into a viable professional league, to advocating for LGBTQ rights recognized by Obama with the President’s Medal, Freedom has been so defined by its activism that it has made it the way it is. It’s easy to accept and assume that someone is ready to take his place.

“I told people I’d be really excited if I died right now because I haven’t finished it yet,” she writes, scanning the horizon. “Time is really running out and I’ve always had a sense of urgency.”

Despite the resurgence of recreational popularity and the huge money at the top of the ecosystem, tennis is at a crossroads: Equality, equity and participation are still not always a priority. The absence of a clear new leader means that King must view his work as dangerous. With the sport currently in turmoil over player associations, the lack of a viable domestic violence policy, a raging battle over press obligations, and rumors of venture capital on the doorsteps, ready to buy anything (for better or for worse) comes King’s book. with the same perfect timing that defines both his playstyle and his life.

It’s easy to be a former champion, it’s even easier to be a legend – after all, job requirements are nothing more than coming up. But being an activist isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t easy to dedicate your life to bringing the world closer to being the way you want it to be. “All In” reads as a manifesto, like “Letters to a Young Poet,” with a heavy bell-hook line. Billie Jean King isn’t finished yet, but as she says here, “If you’re in the change business, you have to be ready to play the long game.” His book is a powerful rallying cry about how, in a life filled with them, he hopes we’ll play the game after he’s gone.

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