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Barrie_Dude
Apr 1st, 2002, 06:25 PM
Billie Jean has done so much for tennis and I idolize her! She is my all time favorite! I am hoping that she has some other fans here!

tennisvideos
Apr 2nd, 2002, 02:20 AM
Hi Barrie

I adore BJK as well. I have dealt with her over recent years and she has always been wonderful and has sent me a few classic gifts (including one of her original Teddy Tinling outfits and a wooden racket) in appreciation for videos I have provided her from her past matches.

Anyway, I have some great pics of her that I will try to post soon, trouble is most of my photos exceed the file size allowed on this site. Does anyone know how to reduce the file size of photos?

Funny, I used to dislike her back in the 70s when she was playing, but when she made a few comebacks and did so well at Wimbledon in 82 and 83 it really made me look at her in a different light. Since then, I have idolised her and love watching re-runs of her matches in the 60s and 70s on video. You just know she was giving it her all, and more.

Long live Billie-Jean!

Rollo
Apr 2nd, 2002, 06:33 AM
Funny how views change isn't it Tennisvideos? By the time I found tennis King was past her prime, so I always cheered for her. Her upset of Tracy Austin at Wimbledon in 1982 was a feast of contrasts in age and palying style, the type we don't see today. Then she went on and almost beat Chris Evert in the semis!

My all-time LOL quote about Billie Jean comes from Pam Shriver's 'Passing Shots".
What a competitor. What an inspiration. What a bitch

Love her or hate her-King has been the most influential tennis personality EVER :)

tennisvideos
Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:05 AM
Hi Rollo

LMAO at Austin's quote - what a classic.

Yes, it is interesting how time can change one's perception of a player. I guess it also helps if they have been through adversity or are on the comeback trail..

Anyone who can play competitively as King did in her late 30s deserves kudos. And yes, that King v Austin QF was a classic of the highest order, and as you mentioned, Kind almost stole the SF against Evert. She just lost the first set TB before rolling Evert in the 2nd set. Another wonderful match.

Barrie_Dude
Apr 4th, 2002, 02:56 PM
Billie Jean is something else all together! She was the one that hooked me on tennis back in 73 when she had the match with Bobby Riggs!

Barrie_Dude
Jan 1st, 2003, 02:56 AM
What?!?!? No BJK Fans?

Rollo
Jan 1st, 2003, 03:44 AM
Whoops! Look at her skirt!


BJK at Orange (a warmup for the US Open) on grass in 1962http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3c10000/3c15000/3c15700/3c15795t.gif


She was still known as "little Miss Moffitt" in those days.


62 again. Gosh she was an exhibitionist even then

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3c10000/3c18000/3c18900/3c18941t.gif


At Forest Hills in 1963-she had glorious form on the backhand

http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cph/3c10000/3c15000/3c15600/3c15632t.gif

way
Jan 2nd, 2003, 01:16 PM
Just popping in to say I just watched her 74 Forest Hils final vs Goolagong.
What tennis!
God bless her.
What a donkey I am to bandwagon the silly trend to put these real pioneers and heroes in out back garden!

Zummi
Jan 3rd, 2003, 03:08 AM
Billie Jean King is truly one of the greatest women in history. Period.

louloubelle
Jan 6th, 2003, 07:30 AM
The Court/King frosty relationship is well known, and it is well known that Marg disapproved of Kings Women's Lib thing. King had the last word in this I feel saying 'Court is Women's Lib in action. She is earning the money whilst Barry is minding the kids'!!!

louloubelle
Feb 1st, 2003, 11:21 AM
Finally picked up BJK auto for $5 at a 2nd hand store.

Should be something worth reading....

Sam L
Apr 9th, 2003, 05:28 AM
Bump from a new Billie Jean King admirer! ;)

billie_jean_king
Apr 9th, 2003, 10:23 PM
Now this is more like it! A thread to worship me!

I love you all.

Ann Jones
Apr 10th, 2003, 12:04 AM
I don't love you Billie.

R&J
May 7th, 2003, 09:04 PM
Funny how views change isn't it Tennisvideos? By the time I found tennis King was past her prime, so I always cheered for her. Her upset of Tracy Austin at Wimbledon in 1982 was a feast of contrasts in age and palying style, the type we don't see today. Then she went on and almost beat Chris Evert in the semis!

My all-time LOL quote about Billie Jean comes from Pam Shriver's 'Passing Shots".


Love her or hate her-King has been the most influential tennis personality EVER :)
She has done sooo much for Womens tennis/tennis in general. She definately gets a CHEER FROM US!:worship:

macn
May 8th, 2003, 04:44 PM
I truly feel that Billie Jean King would have probably been the best of all time if she hadn't spent sooooo much time trying to get the tour started. She has said many times that she was tired going to meetings and then showing up for a final with no practice or rest. Her persona was so strong that many players feared her. Margaret, Chris, Martina, Virginia Wade and a host of other players all said that she was the most aggressive player they had played against. Her mental state was strong on the court and Rosie Casals said when she was quiet on the court, WATCH OUT. Margaret used to beat Billie jean routinely; however, from 1966 to 1973, their h2h record was 12 to 8 in Billie Jeans favor. It's a shame that they didn't play each other more often during that time. Margaret won more titles, but I would put my money on Billie Jean in a crucial moment in a match. Billie only entered the Australian open 3 times during her prime and the French Open 5 times during her prime. She has stated that the U.S. Federation prohibited her from playing the French Open because they wanted her to play their grass court tournaments.

Andy T
Oct 5th, 2003, 08:20 AM
BJK has said that one of her most satisfying moments was when she won her first Virginia Slims tournament at Richmond in Autumn 1970.
Does anyone have details of that tournament? Also I'd love to know where/when/against whom she won her amateur titles in the 1960s


63 Irish Champs. King def ? score: unknown
66 US Indoors (Longwood) King unknown unknown 292
660300 660000 Johannesburg RSA South African Open King Smith-Court 63 62 257
660620 660700 Wimbledon UK WIMBLEDON King Bueno 63 36 61 305
660900 660900 unknown USA US Hardcourts King unknown unknown 291
670200 670000 Winchester MA US Indoors King unknown unknown 292
670300 670000 Johannesburg RSA South African Open King Bueno 75 57 62 257
670620 670700 Wimbledon UK WIMBLEDON King Haydon 63 64 305
670820 670900 New York NY US OPEN King Haydon 119 64 293
671000 671000 Buenos Aires ARG Argentine Open King Casals 63 36 62 13
671127 671203 Melbourne AUS Victorian Open King Turner 63 36 75 296
680101 680107 Perth AUS Western Australian Open King Smith-Court 61 64 303
680108 680114 Hobart AUS Tasmanian Open King Tegart 62 64 278
680119 680129 Melbourne AUS AUSTRALIAN OPEN King Smith-Court 61 62 26
680214 680217 Winchester MA US Indoors King Casals 63 97 292
680400 680400 Miami FL Miami Tournament King unknown unknown 161
680620 680700 Wimbledon UK WIMBLEDON King Tegart 97 75 305
690401 690412 Johannesburg RSA South African Open King Richey 63 64 257
690414 690420 Durban RSA Natal Open King van Zyl 64 61 179
690707 690712 Dublin IRL Irish Open King Wade 62 62 122
690900 690900 Los Angeles CA Pacific SW King Haydon 62 63 207
691000 690900 Los Angeles CA Los Angeles Classic King Haydon 1715 63 144
691000 691000 Oakland CA Oakland Tournament King unknown unknown 196
691115 691100 Stockholm SWE Scandinavian Indoors King Heldman 97 62 242

Andy T
Oct 5th, 2003, 08:32 AM
BJK said one of her most satistying moments in tennis was winning her first VS tournament in Richmond in the autumn of 1970. Does anyone have any details about this? Also, I'd love to know where/when she won her amateur titles.
Here's what I have so far (not much):
1963
Irish Champs. def ? score ?
1966
US Indoors (Longwood) def ? score ?
South African Champs. def Smith-Court 63 62
WIMBLEDON def Bueno 63 36 61
US Hardcourts def. ? score ?
1967
US Indoors def ? score ?
South African Champs. def Bueno 75 57 62
WIMBLEDON def. Haydon-Jones 63 64
US Champs def Haydon-Jones 119 64
Argentine Champs def Casals 63 36 62
Victorian Champs def Turner 63 36 75
1968
Western Australian Champs def. Smith-Court 61 64
Tasmanian Champs def. Tegart 62 64
AUSTRALIAN Champs def Smith-Court 61 62
US Indoors def Casals 63 97
Miami Tournament def. ? score ?
WIMBLEDON def Tegart 97 75
1969
South African Champs def Richey 63 64
Natal Champs def van Zyl 64 61
Irish Champs def Wade 62 62
Pacific SW def Haydon-Jones 62 63
Los Angeles Classic def Haydon-Jones 1715 63
Oakland Tournament def ? score ?
Stockholm Indoors def. Heldman 97 62
1970
Oakland Tournament def Haydon-Jones score ?
Sydney Dunlop/NSW Champs def Smith-Court 62 46 63
Natal Open def. Smith-Court 64 26 62
Italian Open def Heldman 61 63
Richmond def ? score ?
British Indoor (Wembley) def Haydon-Jones 86 36 61

alfajeffster
Oct 10th, 2003, 04:07 PM
BJK said one of her most satistying moments in tennis was winning her first VS tournament in Richmond in the autumn of 1970. Does anyone have any details about this?

I'll look through my old World Tennis magazines- it seems to me I read something on that recently- I'm always reading and re-reading the old magazines. It's so much more interesting than today's fluff. World Tennis was great!

Andy T
Oct 10th, 2003, 05:10 PM
Hi alfajeffster, Thanks/merci/grazie/danke/tak/gracias, etc, etc!
I'd be really grateful for any and all info. :D

AndrewTas
Dec 23rd, 2003, 07:28 AM
You may have seen these results in the finals database thread but I shoudl post on here as well. results after 1977 can be found on itf website at
http://www2.itftennis.com/PD/PlayerActivity/ActivityResults.asp?PlayerID=20000786&start_year=NULL&end_year=NULL&tourtype=A&datesort=A

but there is a few results missing including a mistake as Durr defeated King in 1966 quarter final of the federation cup 57 62 63 (page 156 1967 USLTA yearbook) rather than the other way around.

KINGS RECORDS

1965
W OJAI HARTER
W SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HARTER 63 61
W CALIFORNIA CASALS 62 86
W PENNSYLVANIA GRAEBNER 61 62
W EASTERN ALBERT 75 63
W ESSEX AUCAMP 62 108
RU NEW SOUTH WALES SMITH-COURT
RU SOUTH AUSTRALIA SMITH-COURT
RU FOREST HILLS SMITH-COURT 86 75
SF WIMBLEDON BUENO 64 57 63

1966
W US INDOOR EISEL 60 62
W THUDERBIRD EISEL 63 62
W SOUTH AFRICA SMITH-COURT 63 62
W SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FRETZ 63 108
W TULSA AUCAMP 60 61
W NORTHERN ENGLAND SHAW 62 61
W WIMBLEDON BUENO 63 36 61
W PIPING ROCK KRANTZCKE 62 60
W OJAI CASALS 62 64
W US HARD COURT HOGAN 75 60
2R US OPEN MELVILLE 64 64

1967
QF NSW CHAMPS TEGART 63 79 60
W VICTORIAN BOWREY 63 36 75
RU SOUTH AUSTRALIAN TEGART 46 61 64
RU NEW ENGLAND EISEL 64 57 119
W NATIONAL INDOOR GROENMAN 61 60
W CALIFORNIA STATE CASALS 61 63
W CHARLOTTE BARTKOWICZ 61 62
W SOUTH ORANGE HARTER 46 62 63
W ESSEX MELVILLE 86 61
W US CHAMPS JONES 119 64
W PACIFIC SOUTHWEST CASALS 60 64

1968
W AUSTRALIAN COURT 61 62
SF FRENCH RICHEY 26 63 64
W WIMBLEDON TAGART 97 75
RU US OPEN WADE 64 62
W WEST AUSTRALIAN COURT 62 64
W TASMANIAN TEGART 62 64
W NEW ENGLAND EISEL 63 64
W NATIONAL US INDOOR CASALS 63 97
W PRO CANNES CASALS 10-6
W FRENCH PRO JONES 97 64
W WEMBLEY PRO JONES 46 97 75
RU MADISON SQUARE GARDENS PRO JONES 64 64
W MASTERS, BINGHAMPTON CASALS 108 64
RU FORT WORTH JONES 61 62
SF MADISON SQUARE GARDENS RICHEY 46 75 60

1969
RU AUSTRALIAN COURT 64 61
QF FRENCH OPEN BOWREY 63 63
RU WIMBLEDON JONES 36 63 62
QF US OPEN RICHEY 64 86
QF TASMANIAN MELVILLE 97 64
SF NSW OPEN CASALS 63 57 75
W MASTERS, BINGHAMPTON JONES 108 36 64
RU LAS VEGAS RICHEY 26 64 61
W SOUTH AFRICAN RICHEY 63 64
W NATAL DU PLOOY 64 61
QF ITALIAN MELVILLE 63 60
SF SOUTH AMERICAN NIESSEN 75 63
RU WEMBLEY JONES 911 62 97
W DUBLIN WADE 62 62
QF GSTAAD PERICOLI 63 63
SF NZ OPEN KRANTZCKE 57 62 63
W PACIFIC SW JONES 62 63
W STOCKHOLM HELDMAN 97 62
RU BRISTOL COURT 63 63

1970
QF FRENCH OPEN NIESSEN 26 86 61
RU WIMBLEDON COURT 1412 119
RU PHILADELPHIA COURT 63 76
RU DALLAS COURT 16 63 119
W RICHMOND RICHEY 63 63
QF NEW YORK WADE 46 61 86
W SYDNEY DUNLOP COURT 62 46 63
RU SOUTH AFRICAN COURT 64 16 63
W NATAL COURT 64 26 62
SF MONACO MELVILLE 62 75
W ITALIAN HELDMAN 61 63
QF BOURNEMOUTH WADE 62 63
SF BERLIN NIESSEN 75 63
1R HOUSTON DALTON 63 63
SF SAN FRANSISCO RICHEY 75 57 64
W WEMBLEY JONES 86 36 61

1971
SF WIMBLEDON GOOLAGONG 64 64
W US OPEN CASALS 64 76
W SAN FRANSISCO RICHEY 64 64
W LONG BEACH CASALS 61 62
W MILWALKEE CASALS 63 62
W OKLAHOMA CASALS 16 76 64
W CHATTANOOGA JONES 64 61
RU FT LAUDERDALE DURR 63 36 63
W WINCHESTER CASALS 46 62 63
W BIRMINGHAM CASALS 36 61 62
RU NEW YORK CASALS 64 64
RU LAS VEGAS JONES 75 64
W SAN DIEGO CASALS 46 75 61
W HOUSTON MELVILLE 64 46 61
RU CHICAGO DURR 64 62
SF NEWPORT MELVILLE 64 63
W NATIONAL CLAY COURT TUERO 64 75
DIVIDED PACIFIC SW CASALS 6-6 withdrew
SF PHILADELPHIA DURR 62 57 76
W LOUISVILLE CASALS 61 46 63
W PHOENIX CASALS 75 61
SF ST PETERSBURG EVERT 67 63 ret
W HAMBURG MASTOFF 63 62
W HOYLAKE CASALS 63 63
W WEMBLEY DURR 61 57 75
RU QUEENS COURT 63 36 63
SF VENICE MASTOFF 26 64 76
RU CHRISTCHURCH DURR 63 60
2R HURLINGHAM TRUMAN
W KITZBUHEL RUSSOUW 62 46 75
SF AUCKLAND MELVILLE 62 57 retired

1972
W FRENCH OPEN GOOLAGONG 63 63
W WIMBLEDON GOOLAGONG 63 63
W US OPEN MELVILLE 63 75
RU DALLAS RICHEY 76 61
W RICHMOND RICHEY 63 64
RU JACKSONVILLE NEUMANNOVA 64 63
W TUSCON DURR 60 63
W INDIANAPOLIS RICHEY 63 63
W BRISTOL MELVILLE 63 62
RU DENVER RICHEY 16 64 64
RU NEWPORT COURT 64 61
W CHARLOTTE COURT 62 62
RU OAKLAND COURT 64 61
W PHOENIX COURT 76 63
QF OKLAHOMA STOVE 63 76
SF SAN JUAN RICHEY 76 61
SF ST PETERSBURG EVERT 62 63
SF COLOMBUS DURR 26 62 62
W SAN FRANSISCO MELVILLE 76 76
SF LONG BEACH DURR 63 60
RU FT LAUDERDALE EVERT 61 60
SF BOCA RATON EVERT 64 62
2R WASHINGTON HELDMAN 36 64 61
W NOTTINGHAM RR CASALS

1973
W WIMBLEDON EVERT 60 75
3R US OPEN HELDMAN 36 64 41 RET
RU CHICAGO COURT 62 46 64
RU BOSTON COURT 62 64
RU NASHVILLE COURT 63 46 62
W INDIANAPOLIS CASALS 57 62 64
W DENVER STOVE 64 62
W PHOENIX RICHEY 61 63
SF HILTON HEAD CASALS 75 64
W TOKYO RICHEY 64 64
W NOTTINGHAM WADE 86 64
SF DETROIT MELVILLE 46 62 61
3R MIAMI KRANTZCKE
QF JACKSONVILLE OVERTON 16 76 76
SF HOUSTON CASALS 76 61
W MOBILE DURR
W HONOLULU GOURLAY 61 61
RU BALTIMORE CASALS

1974
QF WIMBLEDON MOROZOVA 75 62
W US OPEN GOOLAGONG 36 63 75
W SAN FRANSISCO EVERT 76 62
RU MISSION VIEJO EVERT 63 61
W WASHINGTON MELVILLE 60 62
W DETROIT CASALS 61 61
SF CHICAGO WADE 63 76
W AKRON RICHEY 63 75
W NEW YORK EVERT 63 36 62
RU PHILADELPHIA MOROZOVA 76 61
SF ORLANDO HELDMAN 26 61 64
SF PHEONIX WADE 75 61
SF VS FINALS GOOLAGONG 62 46 63
SF HILTON HEAD WADE 63 16 64

1975
W WIMBLEDON GOOLAGONG 60 61
W SARASOTA EVERT 62 63
RU SAN FRANSISCO EVERT 61 61
RU AUSTIN EVERT 46 63 76
SF PHILADELPHIA WADE 36 62 62
RU EASTBOURNE WADE 75 46 64

1976
1R MISSION HILLS FROMHOLTZ 62 64
QF PHOENIX FROMHOLTZ 63 62

Andy T
Dec 31st, 2003, 12:10 PM
Great post - as always - AndrewTas. Thx for confirming that fed Cup loss to Durr- some publications give Durr as the winner, others have the opposite result: very irritating.
I can add that:
BJK lost sf Beckenham 1965 to Bueno 62 60 and qf Surbiton to Bentley 62 63.
In 1966 Val Ziegenfuss took BJK out in the Pacific SW Los Angeles but I don't know the score or the round. Here's what I know pre-1965 (not much):

Grand Slam début: 1959 US Championships, lost in the first round to Justyna Bricka 46 75 64, having held a match point.
Lost to Jones 97 3s at Pacific SW before SF
Played Bueno for first time and lost (no idea what tournament)

1960 US Championships
Defeated Julie Heldman 64 62 and Mary Hawton 63 60 before falling in L16 (3r) to Vukovich (#7) 75 64

Played US Clay Courts, won doubles with Hard (def Bricka/Hanks 63 64)

1961 Wimbledon début. Lost her 1st round match (last 64) to Yola Ramirez, seed 5, 119 16 62.
Won the doubles with Karen Hantze.

In the US Champs, lost C. Truman 63 36 62 2nd rd (L32)


1962
Wimbledon: Defeated top seed Margaret Smith-Court 16 63 75 at Wimbledon in second round (Court's first match) and went on to reach qf, unseeded. Lost Haydon-Jones 63 61.

Lost sf Merion GC Pennsylvania to Smith-Court 64 62
Lost sf Eastern GC Orange NJ to Smith-Court 63 64
Lost 1r (L128) US Champs to Victoria Palmer 6-8 5-0 rtd.

1963
Wimbledon: Unseeded, beat Turner (seed 2) 46 64 75, Bueno (7) qf, 62 75, Jones (3) sf 64 64 to finish runner-up to Smith-Court (1) 36 46.

Won Irish Champs
Played USCC – lost doubles final w/ Caldwell to Hard/Bueno 62 62

Lost last 16 US Champs to Dierdre Catt 26 86 75

Reached final Pacific SW, Los Angeles 1963 (bt Bueno 63 64 sf). ??? Lost to Hard in final

1964
Lost f of Southern California to Caldwell 75 36 61
sf at Manchester Northern Tournament UK, abandoned at sf stage (other sf Bueno, Caldwell and Richey).

Semi finalist at Wimbledon d Haydon-Jones 63 63 lost Smith-Court 63 64.

Won Manchester Essex US, def Hantze 64 46 119
Lost final Piping Rock to Richey 63 16 64
US Champs lost QF to Richey 64 64
Won Eastern GC Orange NJ def Richey 75 36 86


1964-5 Australian summer season.
Lost 1r Western Australian to ???
Lost to Turner 108 64 in sf of Queensland GC.
Lost to Schacht in 3r Victorian Championships.
Lost NSW champs singles final to Court 64 63. (won doubles)
Finalist in South Australian to Sherriff, lost 26 64 61. Won doubles w/Ebbern

SF Australian Championships - 1rd bye, defeated Kynaston 62 63, Melville 57 64 61, Ebbern 61 62, lost Smith-Court 61 86.
Doubles finalist w/ Ebbern, def Carr-Vukovich/dening 63 63, van Zyl/Schacht 62 26 63, Baylon/Bueno 62 75, lost Smith-Court/Turner 16 62 63.

If any of you guys can add more info, go ahead. We can complete her career record, hopefully. :D

Barrie_Dude
Jul 8th, 2004, 05:51 PM
Now this is more like it! A thread to worship me!

I love you all.:worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: All Hail The Queen!

jamesuk
Aug 3rd, 2004, 09:58 PM
In lots of posts I have read about how Billie Jean was/is critical and bitchy about Evert and her game.

I have only ever heard Billie Jean once befroe and that was of Chris v Martina in Houston and she was VERY positive about Chis throughout the whole match. Where do those stories originate from?

Also, what was the tennis world´s reaction to Billie Jean still playing and winning in the years 81 to 83? I dont remember that era but reading the results is surprising for me that she could still hold up so well after so long.

Zummi
Aug 4th, 2004, 04:46 AM
A LOT of people don't like Billie Jean in this forum. You're not going to get a fair assesment of Billie Jean around here. But then she was always very much misunderstood and underappreciated. Some things never change...

Billie Jean was friends with Chris & Martina thirty years ago. And she is still friends with both of them today. That should tell you all you need to know about their relationship...

chris whiteside
Aug 4th, 2004, 06:14 AM
I would like to think I could be objective about BJ's achievements. It is a fact that she is one of the all time greats. There can be no question that Women's tennis today owes a great deal to her for her activities during the 70s. However I shudder to think what would have happened if Chris Evert had not taken a stand against the women organising a rival tournament to the USO.

I can never forgive her for the 1966 Wightman Cup match against Jones and obviously I don't know her personally but I look at many of the things she has subsequently said and quite honestly I am not sure that I believe her.

samn
Aug 4th, 2004, 08:15 AM
A LOT of people don't like Billie Jean in this forum. You're not going to get a fair assesment of Billie Jean around here. But then she was always very much misunderstood and underappreciated. Some things never change...



Come on, Billie Jean King underappreciated? If anything, I feel that the others (people like Gladys Heldman, for instance) who helped build the WTA Tour in its early days don't get enough credit for doing so because everyone seems to think "Mother Tennis" did it all by herself :rolleyes:

Rollo
Aug 4th, 2004, 12:24 PM
Here's a pic of King winning at Ojai in 1965



Kathy Blake, Kathy Harter, Helen Lucking, Billie Jean Moffitt, Tory Fretzhttp://ojaitourney.org/1965photos/65wodtrophy.jpg

Barrie_Dude
Aug 4th, 2004, 07:18 PM
Great Picture!

Rollo
Oct 23rd, 2004, 05:39 AM
I just watched the Wimbledon video celebrating King's career. Simply fantastic.

They had clips from all her great Wimbledon matches in the 1960s and 1970s-the 1963 final vs. Margaret Court was in color, as was the 1968 tussle vs. Judy Tegart.

Also featured are interviews with Maria Bueno (I was surprised at how great her English is) and Margaret Court. Both women were highly complimentary.

One funny story from Billie Jean was her first Wimbledon. She and Karen Hantze stayed at a boarding house in 1961. The first day the lady who ran it gave them toast. After a couple of wins in the doubles they got the same toast plus a sausage or two. By the time they got to the finals they were stars, and the boarding house lady was feeding her darlings full English breakfasts:)

alfajeffster
Oct 25th, 2004, 11:25 AM
I have several times quoted from an old Cindy Schmerler article she did in WorldTennis just before it crashed at the beginning of the 90s. In it, she asked a very nice cross-section of women tennis greats who they most hated to play, and why. The answer I have quoted more than once in previous threads was that of Martina Navratilova: "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart, and she did it!"


Interestingly, Billie Jean King's response was: "Margaret Court and Chris Evert, just because they were who they were."

That answer leads me to believe she's not saying the she couldn't beat them, or that they knew how to pick her game apart, etc., but that they were the only players who could, simply through their presence on the other side of the net, actually have an effect on Billie Jean's play. It takes a lot to get this kind of response out of the pround champion that Ms. King is, and I think it's a pretty fair assessment.

Rollo
Mar 3rd, 2005, 05:40 AM
Watching the most important TV moments in history tonight-and Billie Jean King vs. Riggs came in at #50-something.

P. S. If this is your first look in on this trhread you HAVE to see the early pics of Billie Jean.

Barrie_Dude
Jun 25th, 2005, 01:48 AM
About Billie Jean King WTT Charities (http://www.wtt.com/charities/default.asp)
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http://www.wtt.com/about/images/bjk_header.gif
BILLIE JEAN KING – Close Up
http://www.wtt.com/about/images/bjk.jpg 1st Pro Win: Wimbledon (1968) – Defeated Judy Tegart Last Pro Tournament: Australian Open (1983) Most Memorable Tennis:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Winning 3 World TeamTennis Championships <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Winning Wimbledon Mixed Doubles w/ Owen Davidson <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Winning her 1st Virginia Slims title
in Richmond
Winning her 1st Wimbledon Doubles title (1961 with Karen Hantze)
Current Activities:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Co-founder and majority owner, World TeamTennis <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Chair of the USTA High Performance Committee
Board member of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, National AIDS Fund, and Women’s Sports Foundation
Career Highlights:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Won 71 singles titles, including 12 Grand Slam singles titles <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Won 20 Wimbledon titles <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">First woman athlete to win more than $100,000 in a single season in
any sport <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Won battle-of-the-sexes match against Bobby Riggs (Sept. 20, 1973 in Houston)
Highest singles ranking: 1 (5 times between 1966 and 1972)
Best Advice Received: To thine own self be true (from her mother). Philosophy of Life: The four disciplines in The Road Less Traveled -- Accept Responsibility * Balance * Delayed Gratification * Dedication To Your Own Truth Hobbies: Tennis, listening to music and reading self-improvement books. Founded:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Women's Tennis Association (1973) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Women’s Sports Magazine (1974) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Women's Sports Foundation (1974) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Professional World Team Tennis (1974) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">World TeamTennis Professional League (1981) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">World TeamTennis Recreational League(1985) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">World TeamTennis Charities (1987) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Founding member, Women’s Sports Legends (1995)
Donnelly Awards (scholarships given to tennis players who have
Type I Diabetes) - (1997)
Honors:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (August 26, 1990) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Named one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century by Life Magazine (Fall, 1990) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (July 18, 1987) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of Inaugural WTA Honorary Membership Award
(November 1986) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the Female Teaching Pro of the Decade (February 1994) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award (May 1994) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Named one of Sports Illustrated's Top 40 Athletes for the 40th Year Anniversary (September 1994) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the Women's Sports Foundation "Flo Hyman Award" (February 1997) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the "Player Who Makes a Difference" award at Family Circle Magazine Cup (April 1997). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of Honorary Doctorate from California State University, Los Angeles (June 1997). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Named United States Olympic Committee National Tennis Coach of the Year (September 1997). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">National Women's Law Center Honoree (November 1997). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Received Elizabeth Blackwell Award for Courage by William & Hobart Smith Colleges (May 1998). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of Honorary Degree from Trinity College (November 1998); Honorary Doctorate from University of Pennsylvania (May 1999); and Honorary Doctorate Degree from University of Massachusetts (May 2000) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at ESPN's ESPY Awards (February 1999) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of Community Role Model Award at Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center "Women's Night" (March 1999) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the NFL Players Assoc. Lifetime Achievement Award (First woman to receive this award) (April 1999) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Inducted into Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame (October 1999). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Received one of the six Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards - "Athletes Who Changed the Game" (Dec. 1999). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of GLAAD's (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Capitol Award (May 2000) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the Radcliffe Medal from Radcliffe College (2002) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Honored by the National Women's Leadership Summit (2002) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Named Woman of the Year by Women in Sports and Events (2002) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport World Trophy (2002) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators Award of Honor (2002) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Recipient of the Pilippe Chatrier Award , the International Tennis Federation's highest honor (2003)
Inducted into the Court of Champions at the USTA National Tennis Center (2003)
Firsts:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">First woman commissioner in professional sports history (TeamTennis, 1984) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">First woman to coach a co-ed team in professional sports (Philadelphia Freedoms, WTT, 1974) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">First female athlete in any sport to earn more than $100,000 in a single season ($117,000, 1971) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Only woman to win U.S. singles title on four surfaces (grass, clay, carpet, hard courts) <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">One of six inaugural inductees into the Court of Fame at the USTA National Tennis Center (2003)
Part of Israel Bond's first delegation of women to travel to Israel.
Served/Activities:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">President of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA): 1973-75,1980-81 <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Board
of Directors <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Contributor, "It's Elementary" video for Gay and Lesbian education in Chicago public schools <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Contributor, "Out of the Past" PBS documentary on the history of the Gay and Lesbian movement <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of the American Tennis Association Advisory Board <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">National Ambassador for AIM, a charity for handicapped children <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of Board of Directors for: Challenger Center, Elton John AIDS Foundation, S.A.F.E., International Tennis Hall of Fame, National AIDS Fund, Altria Group, Inc., Women's Sports Foundation <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of Planned Parenthood <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of United States Professional Tennis Association & United States Professional Tennis Registry <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of the Chicago Area Women's Sports Association
Advisory Board <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of the Arete Sports Awards Nomination Committee <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards Nomination Committee <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Member of Sports Advisory Board for the Vic Braden Tennis Neurology Research Institute <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">USTA Player Development Committee Consultant
Coach of the 1995, 96, 98 - 2003 U.S. Fed Cup Team; 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Women's Tennis Team
Authored:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">We Have Come A Long Way: The History of Women's Tennis (w/Cynthia Starr, McGraw-Hill, 1988); Billie Jean (with Frank Deford, Viking, 1982); Tennis Love: A Parent's Guide To The Sport (with Greg Hoffman, Macmillan, 1978); Billie Jean (with Kim Chapin, Harper, 1974); Tennis To Win (with Chapin, Harper, 1970)
Contributing Editor for Tennis Magazine
Miscellaneous:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Career singles victories: 695
Has done tennis commentary for HBO, USA, CTV, ABC, CBS and NBC
Billie Jean King Factoids:
<LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Billie Jean King was born Nov. 22, 1943 and grew up in Long Beach, Calif., where her father, Bill, worked for the Long Beach Fire Department and her mother, Betty, was a homemaker. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">At age 5, while washing dishes, Billie Jean told her mom, "I am going to do something great with my life." <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Billie Jean's brother, Randy Moffitt was a relief pitcher in Major League Baseball for 13 years (pitched with the San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Billie Jean bought her first tennis racquet - which came complete with maroon strings - at age 11, using money she had saved from odd jobs. The racquet, which cost $8, was purchased from Brown's Sporting Goods on Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">At age 11, Betty picked Billie Jean up from a free tennis lesson at Houghton Park in Long Beach and Billie told her "I am going to be No. 1 in the world." Betty thought that was nice and then reminded Billie Jean she had homework to complete and piano lessons to practice. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Playing in a tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club in 1955, Billie Jean was barred from posing for a group picture of junior tennis players because she was wearing tennis shorts and not a tennis skirt. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">King was one of nine players who broke away from the tennis establishment and accepted $1 contracts from tennis promoter Gladys Hellman in Houston in 1970. The revolt lead to the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and Women's Tennis Association. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">King was the first female athlete in any sport to win $100,000 (1971). <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">In 1973 King lobbied for, and obtained, equal prize money for men and women at the US Open. This year's event celebrates 25 years of equal prize money at the US Open. <LI style="LEFT: -20px; POSITION: relative">Life Magazine named Billie Jean one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th Century.
Elton John wrote his No. 1 hit Philadelphia Freedom for Billie Jean.





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alfajeffster
Nov 5th, 2005, 01:20 PM
This thread is woefully shy on photos of the legendary Billie Jean. I've decided to do something about it:


http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a223/alfajeffster/Billieforehand.jpg

Rollo
Nov 7th, 2005, 09:01 PM
Alfa-by the looks of it it's Billie Jean playing either Wightman or Fed Cup, circa 1976-78. The pocket flags are very cool.

alfajeffster
Nov 7th, 2005, 09:33 PM
Alfa-by the looks of it it's Billie Jean playing either Wightman or Fed Cup, circa 1976-78. The pocket flags are very cool.

It was from Fed Cup, and is actually a photo they used to advertise Fed Cup in a magazine quite a few years ago. I'm going through my stack of old magazines in storage, and picking out good photos and then just tossing them. They've been cluttering up my storage space for too long now!:lol:

alfajeffster
Dec 2nd, 2005, 12:07 PM
A few vintage pics of Billie Jean Moffitt with her pleated skirt a-flutter:

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a223/alfajeffster/Billie1962.jpg

and engaged in her favorite thing to do on a tennis court- rushing the net:

http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a223/alfajeffster/Billie1965.jpg

Rollo
Dec 2nd, 2005, 01:49 PM
Those horn rimmed glasses are A RIOT.:lol: When Billie Jean first became a star and then married Larry King she got a lot of headlines like "Queen of the Courts Meets her King", etc.

There is a new book out which explores the whole King-Riggs match and it's impact on society. It's called

A Necessary Spectacle : Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game (Paperback)
by Selena Roberts (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author-exact=Selena%20Roberts&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank/102-5047407-3604961)

PamShriverRockz
Dec 2nd, 2005, 03:40 PM
Those horn rimmed glasses are A RIOT.:lol: When Billie Jean first became a star and then married Larry King she got a lot of headlines like "Queen of the Courts Meets her King", etc.

There is a new book out which explores the whole King-Riggs match and it's impact on society. It's called

A Necessary Spectacle : Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game (Paperback)
by Selena Roberts (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author-exact=Selena%20Roberts&rank=-relevance%2C%2Bavailability%2C-daterank/102-5047407-3604961)

Oo thanks for that book link Rollo, looks interesting :)

Rollo
Mar 25th, 2006, 03:21 PM
I'm reading bits and pieces of Necessary Spectacle at the moment.


The book shows how important the King-Riggs match was for tennis and equal rights in the 1970s; but whar I like is how it while it lauds Billie; it doesn't make villains out of Bobby (one seriously funny man) and Margaret Court.

Billie Jean has a had the same girlfriend for more than twenty years-Ilana Kloss. I wasn't surprised at that (King and Kloss looked like a pair when Alfa and I saw them at trhe Philly event in 2004); but I was surprised at how long lasting their relationship had been.

Reading the book you get the sense BJK finally is at peace with herself.

Good for her:)

Rollo
Mar 25th, 2006, 03:27 PM
From a thread in GM--

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=227142

Billie Jena is getting 6 figures to endorse a LBGT retirement center in Santa Fe named after her.


http://news.pajamasmedia.com/2006/03/23/7920186_Sports_Legend_an.shtml

alfajeffster
Mar 26th, 2006, 04:09 PM
From a thread in GM--

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=227142

Billie Jena is getting 6 figures to endorse a LBGT retirement center in Santa Fe named after her.


http://news.pajamasmedia.com/2006/03/23/7920186_Sports_Legend_an.shtml

She's also going to be at the Gay Games in Chicago this July. At first people thought she was an early sign-on because they saw "Billy Bean" the gay baseball player's name, but the Chicago native has now officially signed on:

http://www.gaygameschicago.org/media/article.php?aid=6

Barrie_Dude
Apr 6th, 2006, 03:29 AM
Wow! Billie Jean certainly still has pull!

Rollo
Apr 14th, 2006, 04:24 PM
I posted this in the thread about her upcoming HBO special-but this is such a good pic it's worth posting twice. She has a Lily Tomlin-like look in this one.



http://66.232.148.140/blogs/tennisworld/images/2006_04_13_king.jpg

Barrie_Dude
Jul 10th, 2006, 02:03 PM
I am not used to seeing her like that! I have a picture of her in my head with a tennis racquet looking ready to thrash someone!

trivfun
Jul 10th, 2006, 04:07 PM
I truly feel that Billie Jean King would have probably been the best of all time if she hadn't spent sooooo much time trying to get the tour started. She has said many times that she was tired going to meetings and then showing up for a final with no practice or rest. Her persona was so strong that many players feared her. Margaret, Chris, Martina, Virginia Wade and a host of other players all said that she was the most aggressive player they had played against. Her mental state was strong on the court and Rosie Casals said when she was quiet on the court, WATCH OUT. Margaret used to beat Billie jean routinely; however, from 1966 to 1973, their h2h record was 12 to 8 in Billie Jeans favor. It's a shame that they didn't play each other more often during that time. Margaret won more titles, but I would put my money on Billie Jean in a crucial moment in a match. Billie only entered the Australian open 3 times during her prime and the French Open 5 times during her prime. She has stated that the U.S. Federation prohibited her from playing the French Open because they wanted her to play their grass court tournaments.


Yes, Billie Jean did beat Margaret when the match was on the line. The problem was Margaret didn't allow the game to be on the line because she was in better condition and a better athlete than Billie Jean.

23TwentyThree23
Jul 10th, 2006, 09:43 PM
For all the BJK fans out there, I had to say I'm glad martina didn't beat her record at wimbledon. To me, BJK will always be wimbledon - that confident strut, the nod of the head with closed eyes, the hair (!), the glasses, the smash on one knee, the dismantling of chris and evonne in those finals, the huge wide-eyed stare and laugh when she took the record from ms. ryan, the annoyed snatch at a tennis ball and even just the name on the wimbledon scoreboard "Mrs L.W.King". She is and was wimbledon personified.

Barrie_Dude
Jul 11th, 2006, 12:07 AM
Yes, Billie Jean has meant alot to tennis!

MarriedaBJKnut
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:26 PM
Ms. King.

You are a genious! My S.O. thinks the world of you!

MarriedaBJKnut
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:27 PM
WOW! She looks beautiful.

MarriedaBJKnut
Jul 22nd, 2006, 11:34 PM
Now this is more like it! A thread to worship me!

I love you all.


My S.O. and I are playing on your WTT league and I must say it is great to be able to enjoy time together (She is much better a player than I) while playing tennis. Great concept!

You are a gift from the sky in our eyes. My S.O. thinks the world of you! :angel: Wishing you continued success and everything your heart desires.

Jakarta
Jul 27th, 2006, 07:38 AM
I remember an interview -- but don't know if it was TV or from a tennis magazine -- where BJK talked about being a fighter, but alluded to the one match in her career where she gave up, decided to let the other player win because, basically , she couldn't be bothered to play anymore. I have my idea of what match it was, but would like to hear which one other people think it was.

alfajeffster
Jul 27th, 2006, 12:24 PM
I remember an interview -- but don't know if it was TV or from a tennis magazine -- where BJK talked about being a fighter, but alluded to the one match in her career where she gave up, decided to let the other player win because, basically , she couldn't be bothered to play anymore. I have my idea of what match it was, but would like to hear which one other people think it was.

It would have to be when she defaulted against Julie Heldman at the U.S. Open in 1973, after a slight exchange of words.

trivfun
Jul 27th, 2006, 01:33 PM
It would have to be when she defaulted against Julie Heldman at the U.S. Open in 1973, after a slight exchange of words.


I'm reading seeing the show about Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King talking about that match and she put a complaint about a bad call. I thought she gave up in her last match in Wimbledon against Andrea Jaeger but she was tired and old basically all she could do was throw up moon ball lobs which she did well against Tracy Austin but didn't work against Andrea. Also, I remember somebody mentioning the 1969 match with Ann Haydon Jones where she got into an argument with her husband, Larry before the match.

nelslus
Jul 27th, 2006, 01:39 PM
I also remember reading a bit more about this somewhere recently (in the BJK/Riggs book?), and my vote would be that she was talking about her 69 Wimbledon final with Ann (sorry, Chris.)

Johnny O
Jul 27th, 2006, 06:53 PM
Most people have always assumed it was the Wimbledon final of 69 when she lost to Ann Jones. But I've always thought that pretty unfair to Jones, who was rampant after beating Madge in the semis, coming from a set down in both matches. To her credit, King has never said which match, or even alluded to the time or place. To her discredit, she should have kept her mouth shut in the first place. It's almost worse having a whispering campaign than it is knowing for a fact which match it was.

nelslus
Jul 27th, 2006, 07:47 PM
Most people have always assumed it was the Wimbledon final of 69 when she lost to Ann Jones. But I've always thought that pretty unfair to Jones, who was rampant after beating Madge in the semis, coming from a set down in both matches. To her credit, King has never said which match, or even alluded to the time or place. To her discredit, she should have kept her mouth shut in the first place. It's almost worse having a whispering campaign than it is knowing for a fact which match it was.

Johnny- I totally agree with you- and I must say, I am enjoying reading your posts. For example, BJK and Chris= total class to me- but I don't see the point to BJK talking about tanking a match, and when Chris explained away some of her losses- ex., she lost to BJK in the Wimbledon SF because because that harlot Susan George was in the stands with Jimmy, and she should never have allowed herself to become so distracted and lose to Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, because she sez she was SO much the better player, blah, blah, blah, blah. For that matter, in the latest Tennis Weekly magazine, Borg talks about how he should have beaten McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1981, because he felt he was the better player on that day but just had lost his motivation.

On the one hand- all of that is possibly/probably true (I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that Chris was the better player over Wade.) I've seen the BJK/Ann match, and BJK owned the first set- and then just appeared to go away the rest of the match. I've not yet seen the Ann/Madge match, and no disrespect meant, but IMO, Ann's form wasn't all that great against BJK.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe a loss is just.....a loss. Of course, it would appear that at least for most of the big champs, their egos just won't allow them to accept (at least certain) losses. Heck, that's why they're winning Slams, and the rest of us.....aren't.

And, I would be the last person who would ever begrudge Ann or Virginia their Wimbledon titles- gotta love both of them. Sometimes the universe just conspires to do the right thing (paging Jana Novotna) and lets the right player win their big singles tournament(s). (Of course, then there's Rosie, and Pam, and......)

Jakarta
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:00 AM
My guess was the 1969 final, too. I have only seen parts of it, but in the third set Billie Jean looks disinterested, peeved even. Her record against Ann was really good -- she had come back from a set and a break down in the 1967 semifinal --but maybe she wasn't prepared (uncharacteristically for her) to do the extra, with Jones playing her last slam and the crowd behind her.

Then again, Jones had reached the semis at least at Wimbledon on eight occasions since 1958, and she beat Court after coming back from losing the first set 10-12. So, in some sense, she deserved the win, however she got it.

alfajeffster
Jul 28th, 2006, 12:21 PM
My guess was the 1969 final, too. I have only seen parts of it, but in the third set Billie Jean looks disinterested, peeved even. Her record against Ann was really good -- she had come back from a set and a break down in the 1967 semifinal --but maybe she wasn't prepared (uncharacteristically for her) to do the extra, with Jones playing her last slam and the crowd behind her.

Then again, Jones had reached the semis at least at Wimbledon on eight occasions since 1958, and she beat Court after coming back from losing the first set 10-12. So, in some sense, she deserved the win, however she got it.

I remember reading (sorry, a bit of sourcery here) that Billie Jean got so many bad line calls by that point, and the partisan crowd was so totally against her, that she basically threw in the towel. Odd for her. She and McEnroe are two players who can and do play through unpopularity and adversity better than any. Chris Whiteside also mentioned in an earlier thread that Billie may have been feeling a little guilty (again, an odd descriptive for Billie) for her unsportsmanlike behavior in a crucial match against Ann a few years earlier in a Fed Cup or Whightman Cup match that cost Ann the match. Maybe Chris can re-hash that story for us- Chris?

Johnny O
Jul 28th, 2006, 02:29 PM
This is exactly what I mean! We have no idea which match BJK was talking about and it's very unfair to Jones that the rumour mill and conjecture suggests it was this match. Even if it is true! King should never have said anything at all or should come out and say which match it was. The speculation is worse than any definite statement.

alfajeffster
Jul 28th, 2006, 05:48 PM
This is exactly what I mean! We have no idea which match BJK was talking about and it's very unfair to Jones that the rumour mill and conjecture suggests it was this match. Even if it is true! King should never have said anything at all or should come out and say which match it was. The speculation is worse than any definite statement.

I'm going to look through "Billie" tomorrow morning for the section where she describes the match, and come back to this. I forget exactly what she says there, so I'm with you on the speculation thing.

chris whiteside
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:31 PM
I remember reading (sorry, a bit of sourcery here) that Billie Jean got so many bad line calls by that point, and the partisan crowd was so totally against her, that she basically threw in the towel. Odd for her. She and McEnroe are two players who can and do play through unpopularity and adversity better than any. Chris Whiteside also mentioned in an earlier thread that Billie may have been feeling a little guilty (again, an odd descriptive for Billie) for her unsportsmanlike behavior in a crucial match against Ann a few years earlier in a Fed Cup or Wightman Cup match that cost Ann the match. Maybe Chris can re-hash that story for us- Chris?


You've just ruined what should have been a good weekend, alfa. Whenever I think of that 1966 Wightman Cup match I start to boil over and the BP goes through the roof. It was the first tennis match I had ever seen live and I was crying in frustration at the end of it (well, I was only coming up to 13 at the time). Very scientific I know, but my big brother who had taken me over to watch the match got really excited at 2-2 in the final set and said that Jones was going to win it - he did know what he was talking about and was usually right. There's a whole story and I must write a thread on it at some time.

I think we do know that the match BJ was talking about was the 1969 Wimbledon final. On thing I wouldn't like is for a match to be won unfairly and I have to say I don't believe there were any blatantly "bad" line calls against BJ.

Ann Jones when questioned about the possibility of BJ tanking this match says it is rubbish - but then, of course, she would!

After the high quality of the Court-Jones semi the standard of play in the final was pretty awul. As you say it would not be normal for BJ to have had a "conscience" and it would be most unusual for her not to do everything in her power to win any match - she was one of the most competitive players in the history of the game. Certainly there was no sign that she had any intention of not wanting to win when she steamrollered through the first set and fought back from 1-4 to 3-4 30-0 in the second. There was no question Jones did raise her game (wouldn't have been hard to do after the first set) and played some reasonable stuff in the final set.

I remain sceptical about BJ's claims but on the other hand wouldn't dismiss them either. It is quite handy after the match is over to explain it away by let's not say fabrications but exaggerations. BJ wasn't shy about trying to denigrate Margaret Court's Australian titles to elevate her own record and didn't Nancy (Richey) say at one stage that she was quite miffed how BJ took all the credit in setting up the inaugural meetings which resulted in the start of the Slims tours when Nancy believed that a couple of other players herself included played an important part in it.

A former Poster here - and I apologise for not recalling the name - met BJ personally during the seventies and asked her about this game. He was told that this was the match she had alluded to but that she had become friendly with Ann and wanted her to have the title. In no way does this sound like the BJK we all know BUT this is a different story from her original reason of beeing pissed off after a row with Larry which immediately makes me suspicious. Is BJ really wanted to "give" the match to her new friend Ann then why come out a couple of years later and cast aspersions on the victory? It's not as if they had a falling out, Jones played a few doubles events with King in the early 70s and Pip Jones was one of the organisers and gave great support to the early Slims tours.

Players (like in all walks of life) do tend to romanticise past events too.

The whole event is shrouded in mystery and there are too many contradictions for me to take BJ's story at face value.

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:03 PM
Billie part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlJqHjglW-k

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:04 PM
Billie part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZZbbMqYinI&mode=related&search=

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:05 PM
Billie part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77eSr78LVj0

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:05 PM
Billie part 4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RFERNOseVg

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:06 PM
Billie part 5


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3EkJOTVmUU

Barrie_Dude
Sep 11th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Billie part 6

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSrwJDLjnAM

alfajeffster
Sep 12th, 2006, 12:58 PM
Thanks Barrie- that "Billie Jean King- Rogue Champion" BBC documentary was terrific, and I'm glad I stumbled on it, and that PBS aired it recently. Great footage I'd never seen before, and chock full of clips of match play that only confirmed my opinion that she was a much better tennis player than a lot of people think. As much as I admire and respect Martina Navratilova's talent (and hope the opportunity to see her magic in person never ends), I still think that given the same standard size frames, Billie Jean King has just as good (if not better) backhand volley, and definitely a better and more compact forehand volley than Martina, and was an all-around better tactician from the rest of the court as well. Every time I watch footage of Billie playing tennis, even if she's not playing up to par, I always learn something new.

chris whiteside
Sep 12th, 2006, 02:13 PM
Thanks for the links, Barrie. I'm going to watch them in instalments.

chris whiteside
Sep 13th, 2006, 10:06 AM
Thoroughly enjoying these programmes but it was a shock to find out BJ much preferred playing doubles to singles - "My favourite event was the mixed, then the ladies doubles and singles third". Wow.

Barrie_Dude
Sep 13th, 2006, 04:10 PM
Thanks ya'all! Billie Jean has always been a "Hero" of mine!

nelslus
Sep 13th, 2006, 11:08 PM
Thoroughly enjoying these programmes but it was a shock to find out BJ much preferred playing doubles to singles - "My favourite event was the mixed, then the ladies doubles and singles third". Wow.

Hey, Chris: Now, I love me My Billie Mean and all- and I'm not gonna say she's ever insincere- maybe she really means this when she's saying this. And I'm all for speaking up for doubles- and hey, BJK's always up on what it takes for a good ol' quotable, get-me-in-the-papers sound-bite. But, she has made this comment in the past, and especially a bunch of times lately- and I say, "Oh, come on." From what I've seen of her singles vs. doubles match tapes- she sure seems to be more of a snarling vengeful beast (except of course for her Wimbledon tank job against that Brit player :lol: ) trying to win her Singles Slams over her Slam doubles final wins. SURE, Billie, trade in one of your Singles Slam wins, and we'll credit ya with 3 more Mixed Slam victories. Over her stinking, rotting corpse, I sez.

Barrie_Dude
Sep 15th, 2006, 03:04 PM
Thoroughly enjoying these programmes but it was a shock to find out BJ much preferred playing doubles to singles - "My favourite event was the mixed, then the ladies doubles and singles third". Wow.Hard to believe considering her singles record.

Andy T
Sep 15th, 2006, 03:25 PM
Hard to believe considering her singles record.

In some ways, I was surprised to hear her say this too - mixed was the discipline in which she enjoyed the least success at the majors. On the other hand, it fits well with her enthusiasm for team and co-ed sports.

austinrunner
Sep 15th, 2006, 06:05 PM
You won't find a bigger fan of BJK anywhere, but she is not always consistent in her statements or her recollections. For example, she said at the time that she came back in 1982 and 1983 for the love of the game. But she claimed in a recent television documentary that she had no desire to play at age 38 or 39 and that the only reason she played those years was to make money to pay her lawyers. Well, which is it?

As for whether Navratilova was better than BJK, I think that it would have been 50-50 had they been playing each other in their primes. Have a look at their 1980 Wimbledon QF, where Navratilova won 10-8 in the third set. Neither was in their prime then. It was a fiercely competitive match that BJK easily could have and probably should have won. Some attribute BJK's subpar performance in the 1983 Wimbledon SF against Jaeger to her looking ahead to the opportunity to play (and beat) Navratilova in the final.

Barrie_Dude
Sep 15th, 2006, 07:37 PM
Well, Billie Jean is always the queen

alfajeffster
Sep 21st, 2006, 06:55 PM
...As for whether Navratilova was better than BJK, I think that it would have been 50-50 had they been playing each other in their primes. Have a look at their 1980 Wimbledon QF, where Navratilova won 10-8 in the third set. Neither was in their prime then. It was a fiercely competitive match that BJK easily could have and probably should have won. Some attribute BJK's subpar performance in the 1983 Wimbledon SF against Jaeger to her looking ahead to the opportunity to play (and beat) Navratilova in the final.

All I can say is that by the 80s, Billie Jean's movement around the tennis court was a mere shell of what it was even in the 1974 U.S. Open win over Goolagong (a match that both Billie and Evonne have said was some of the best tennis they ever played, however Billie, true to form, noted that she had passed her prime and was beginning to go downhill at that point). I have several BJK matches on video, from the early 60s through the 80s, and I have no doubt with both girls wielding a standard size frame, Billie Jean King would have regularly beaten Martina Navratilova at her own game- something very few players were capable of doing during Navratilova's celebrated run in the first half of the 80s. Chris Evert was indeed a formidible adversary, however, on grass and fast hardcourts, I don't think it's a stretch that an opponent as aggressive and able to take the net away from Martina would have been far more successful. In counter to your statement, I doubt very much Martina was looking forward to playing Billie Jean in that 1983 Wimbledon final, with good reason.

trivfun
Sep 21st, 2006, 07:25 PM
Andrea Jaeger was a tough player. Unfortunately, she got into a fight with her father before the 1983 final. Roland Jaeger kicked her out the temporary house they were staying. Andrea ended up staying in Martina's house. Hows that for drama.

Johnny O
Sep 21st, 2006, 09:55 PM
You won't find a bigger fan of BJK anywhere, but she is not always consistent in her statements or her recollections. For example, she said at the time that she came back in 1982 and 1983 for the love of the game. But she claimed in a recent television documentary that she had no desire to play at age 38 or 39 and that the only reason she played those years was to make money to pay her lawyers. Well, which is it?

It's the latter! BJK has freely admitted that she was not honest about the Marilyn scandal or what happened after it. Like most celebrities, she was in the hands of her 'image' handlers, in this case IMG. Fearing the backlash against her and women's tennis, the whole angle taken with the media was that BJK was a happily married straight woman who's exhaustion and tireless dedication to the women's tennis tour had driven into the arms of another woman. A total aberration! A biography with Frank Deford was produced to substantiate this ridiculous angle. Year's later, comfortable in her retirement and far less worried about her image, and when being gay no longer mattered so much, BJK finally felt able to tell the truth, admitting her discomfort at the previous PR manipulation. It's a sad fact of modern living that celebrities are rarely in control of their lives and what the public are told. I give her full marks for having the courage now to tell it how it was. She's consistently said for over a decade that it was the need to pay off the lawyers that got her back on the tour.

Johnny O
Sep 21st, 2006, 10:02 PM
All I can say is that by the 80s, Billie Jean's movement around the tennis court was a mere shell of what it was even in the 1974 U.S. Open win over Goolagong (a match that both Billie and Evonne have said was some of the best tennis they ever played, however Billie, true to form, noted that she had passed her prime and was beginning to go downhill at that point). I have several BJK matches on video, from the early 60s through the 80s, and I have no doubt with both girls wielding a standard size frame, Billie Jean King would have regularly beaten Martina Navratilova at her own game- something very few players were capable of doing during Navratilova's celebrated run in the first half of the 80s. Chris Evert was indeed a formidible adversary, however, on grass and fast hardcourts, I don't think it's a stretch that an opponent as aggressive and able to take the net away from Martina would have been far more successful. In counter to your statement, I doubt very much Martina was looking forward to playing Billie Jean in that 1983 Wimbledon final, with good reason.

It would have been very emotional for both players to meet in a Wimbledon final for sure, and that sentiment might have affected Martina, but I think she was too strong in 83 to have been troubled by anyone. Least of all a 39 former champ at the end of playing days. BJK played brilliantly to reach the semis and her reputation alone would have been enough to earn her several games in any match, but against Martina, I don't think it would have been a lot different to the Jaeger scoreline. 1980 was really her last realistic shot at the title, and even then, I don't think she'd have beaten Evert in the semi had she won that quarter against Martina. She played brilliantly in 82 and pushed Evert to the limit in that semi too, but even had she made it through, Martina would have won the final. I think. The fun is - We'll never know!

austinrunner
Sep 21st, 2006, 10:53 PM
It would have been very emotional for both players to meet in a Wimbledon final for sure, and that sentiment might have affected Martina, but I think she was too strong in 83 to have been troubled by anyone. Least of all a 39 former champ at the end of playing days. BJK played brilliantly to reach the semis and her reputation alone would have been enough to earn her several games in any match, but against Martina, I don't think it would have been a lot different to the Jaeger scoreline.
Have a look at the BJK-Jaeger semifinal again if you haven't seen it recently. I charted the match point-by-point a few years ago. Jaeger was as brilliant on that day as she was mediocre in the final. I agree that Navratilova probably would have won the final against BJK, but I don't agree that it would have been a blow out. BJK almost always played better against fellow serve-and-volleyers than baseliners late in her career. And the added motivation of playing Navratilova in a Wimbledon final and in what BJK probably considered to be her last match in that tournament would have made BJK very dangerous. I read somewhere that BJK already had a game plan for the final. Too bad she didn't get the opportunity to exercise it.

Johnny O
Sep 22nd, 2006, 03:15 AM
Have a look at the BJK-Jaeger semifinal again if you haven't seen it recently. I charted the match point-by-point a few years ago. Jaeger was as brilliant on that day as she was mediocre in the final. I agree that Navratilova probably would have won the final against BJK, but I don't agree that it would have been a blow out. BJK almost always played better against fellow serve-and-volleyers than baseliners late in her career. And the added motivation of playing Navratilova in a Wimbledon final and in what BJK probably considered to be her last match in that tournament would have made BJK very dangerous. I read somewhere that BJK already had a game plan for the final. Too bad she didn't get the opportunity to exercise it.

Alas, I think that's something that often happens when a player steam rollers over another in any match. The victor rarely gets the credit they deserve as everybody assumes the loser just played really, really badly. Jaeger simply blew BJK off the court in that match and there was nothing BJK could do about it. Goolagong was on the receiving end of BJKs stellar performance in the 75 W final. BJK was just relentless that day and Goolagong was made to look pitiful. But instead of Jaeger or BJK being lauded for their performance, the fans and the media have always talked about how their opponents "blew it." Life can be so unfair sometimes....

alfajeffster
Sep 22nd, 2006, 01:26 PM
It would have been very emotional for both players to meet in a Wimbledon final for sure, and that sentiment might have affected Martina, but I think she was too strong in 83 to have been troubled by anyone. Least of all a 39 former champ at the end of playing days. BJK played brilliantly to reach the semis and her reputation alone would have been enough to earn her several games in any match, but against Martina, I don't think it would have been a lot different to the Jaeger scoreline. 1980 was really her last realistic shot at the title, and even then, I don't think she'd have beaten Evert in the semi had she won that quarter against Martina. She played brilliantly in 82 and pushed Evert to the limit in that semi too, but even had she made it through, Martina would have won the final. I think. The fun is - We'll never know!

Very true. Even though it's fun to compare styles of play and hypothesize how players in their prime would've stacked up against champions of different eras (I know I enjoy it), the reality is it is absolutely impossible. That said, Billie Jean did have wins over Martina quite late in BJK's career, and at the beginning of the prime of Martina's. I know people here are probably sick of hearing this quote, but it bears mention that Martina herself has said "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart- and she did it". That quote in and of itself speaks volumes about what never was.

trivfun
Sep 23rd, 2006, 05:16 PM
Very true. Even though it's fun to compare styles of play and hypothesize how players in their prime would've stacked up against champions of different eras (I know I enjoy it), the reality is it is absolutely impossible. That said, Billie Jean did have wins over Martina quite late in BJK's career, and at the beginning of the prime of Martina's. I know people here are probably sick of hearing this quote, but it bears mention that Martina herself has said "Billie Jean King knew exactly what to do to pick my game apart- and she did it". That quote in and of itself speaks volumes about what never was.

Billie Jean King could probably beat players even today by her will and her intellect. However, the question can she beat the WTA Tour. That was the problem with toward her career. Martina blew out the tour she beat people she was supposed to beat. BJK had that problem throughtout her career. I say BJK toughest opponent was Nancy Richey.

alfajeffster
Sep 25th, 2006, 01:11 PM
...Martina blew out the tour she beat people she was supposed to beat...

What I am suggesting is that Martina didn't have a world-class net rushing and attacking player to have to pass when Martina was at the top for so long. All she had was the mechanical baseline accuracy of Evert, which she could figure out and dissect without the same pressure that Billie Jean King had when Margaret Court came charging in behind a service. It's not about the players, it's about the tennis and the complete game.

trivfun
Sep 25th, 2006, 04:32 PM
What I am suggesting is that Martina didn't have a world-class net rushing and attacking player to have to pass when Martina was at the top for so long. All she had was the mechanical baseline accuracy of Evert, which she could figure out and dissect without the same pressure that Billie Jean King had when Margaret Court came charging in behind a service. It's not about the players, it's about the tennis and the complete game.


Their game is not what I'm talking about is that Martina did a good job in beating the Jo Durie's, Kathy Rinaldi, and other players who were top10 or top 20. Same with Chris. Though I thought, the competition fatigued Chris a little more than Martina when they met in finals. Chris was more vulnerable to baseliners but she seemed to find a way to win. Funny thing, Martina could blow by these baseliners easier than Chris. Though, she had problems with Pam and Helena Sukova's when she was in top shape. I thought she beat Chris due to fitness than power.

When you compare tennis to me it is like comparing boxers of Hearns, Leonard, Duran, and Hagler. That is what those ladies are like.

alfajeffster
Sep 30th, 2006, 02:38 PM
Their game is not what I'm talking about is that Martina did a good job in beating the Jo Durie's, Kathy Rinaldi, and other players who were top10 or top 20. Same with Chris. Though I thought, the competition fatigued Chris a little more than Martina when they met in finals. Chris was more vulnerable to baseliners but she seemed to find a way to win. Funny thing, Martina could blow by these baseliners easier than Chris. Though, she had problems with Pam and Helena Sukova's when she was in top shape. I thought she beat Chris due to fitness than power.

When you compare tennis to me it is like comparing boxers of Hearns, Leonard, Duran, and Hagler. That is what those ladies are like.

The only player capable of matching Martina's net-rushing attacking game from 1980-1987 was Hana Mandlikova, and then only on the very rare occasion Hana decided to show up for an entire match. Billie Jean had several more top-level volleyers to have to pass who were much better players than Helena Sukova, Jo Durie, or Pam Shriver. Virginia Wade, Kerry Melville, and any number of lesser net-rushers were all better at their peaks than anything Martina had to face. Throw Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong into that mix and you get the point. It really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, because every champion has to play who came to the dance, and Martina was outstanding in the 80s, to say the least. I just don't buy into her own claim that she was the best volleyer of all time in the women's game, and am merely stating that Billie Jean King in her prime was every bit as good, and (IMO) better, all things considered.

manu32
Oct 1st, 2006, 01:03 AM
not a fan of king

Barrie_Dude
Nov 15th, 2006, 02:04 AM
BTW:

THE
USTA
BILLIE
JEAN
KING
NATIONAL
TENNIS
CENTER
sounds terrific, does it not? :hearts: :hearts: :hearts: :hearts: :hearts:

tennisvideos
Nov 15th, 2006, 03:07 AM
I agree with Alfa. From watching all the King matches I would have to say that she was an astonishing volleyer and probably better than anyone to have ever picked up a tennis racket. Male or female. :worship:

And I also agree that she faced far more depth than Navratilova did in terms of all court play - she had to contend with such greats as Court, Bueno, Goolagong, Wade etc and then throw in the great baseliners she had to face - Turner, Jones, Richey, Evert, Austin etc.

Oh gotta love the 60s and 70s. :worship:

trivfun
Nov 15th, 2006, 03:38 AM
I agree with Alfa. From watching all the King matches I would have to say that she was an astonishing volleyer and probably better than anyone to have ever picked up a tennis racket. Male or female. :worship:

And I also agree that she faced far more depth than Navratilova did in terms of all court play - she had to contend with such greats as Court, Bueno, Goolagong, Wade etc and then throw in the great baseliners she had to face - Turner, Jones, Richey, Evert, Austin etc.

Oh gotta love the 60s and 70s. :worship:


I agree with the amount of players that were competitive for Billie Jean. But Martina was the one facing Steffi Graf and Monica Seles not Billie Jean. Martina faced all those players that you mentioned as well too with the exception of Turner, Jones, and somewhat Richey. Those baseliners that you mentioned were the equivalent of the Maleeva sisters with the exception of Jones and Turner. Steffi and Monica ate them up because of their sorry serves. The return game was not existent then but Steffi and Monica were deadly on the return. I think Billie Jean would have come up with something against those two on their serve but not on their return.

tennisvideos
Nov 15th, 2006, 07:30 AM
I agree with the amount of players that were competitive for Billie Jean. But Martina was the one facing Steffi Graf and Monica Seles not Billie Jean. Martina faced all those players that you mentioned as well too with the exception of Turner, Jones, and somewhat Richey. Those baseliners that you mentioned were the equivalent of the Maleeva sisters with the exception of Jones and Turner. Steffi and Monica ate them up because of their sorry serves. The return game was not existent then but Steffi and Monica were deadly on the return. I think Billie Jean would have come up with something against those two on their serve but not on their return.

With all due respect, Martina really only faced Court & Wade when they were on the way out (Court had 2 kids and Wade only had a couple of good years whilst Martina was still on the rise).

Yes Navratilova did face the mighty Graf & Seles but they were essentially baseliners - great ones at that. The point I was agreeing with Alfa about was that King faced more ALL COURT players - players that came to net consistently ... Court, Bueno, Tegart, Goolagong, Wade, Casals amongst others.

alfajeffster
Nov 15th, 2006, 01:24 PM
...Those baseliners that you mentioned were the equivalent of the Maleeva sisters with the exception of Jones and Turner. Steffi and Monica ate them up because of their sorry serves. The return game was not existent then but Steffi and Monica were deadly on the return. I think Billie Jean would have come up with something against those two on their serve but not on their return.

You need to watch more of the great matches from the 60s and 70s. You'll see that Margaret Court did have a great return of serve, in fact, it was on the backhand side her chip and flat drive returns were weapons, and her cross-court forehand drive was hit very much like Pete Sampras' later- tons of pace and dipping fast for angles. And pardon me, but to compare Chris Evert's baseline prowess to any of the Maleevas is just ludicrous. She was a better player than Nancy Richey, who sometimes could stay with Chrissie in terms of consistency, but more often than not couldn't. Billie Jean King in her prime was capable of beating every type of opponent, and frankly, not just adequate players, some of the best out there. She was a better serve-and-volley player than Margaret Court, and was only in trouble against Madge when Mighty Madge asserted her physical stature on the matches they played. As much as I love watching Margaret play, on any given day, with both players at their peaks, Billie Jean King would've won the match, and I submit she would've beaten Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf and Monica Seles too. She was that good.

Gooliefan
Nov 15th, 2006, 01:47 PM
As a Brit growing up in the 70's Billie-Jean was a thorny issue. She was not much liked at Wimbledon and I remember at home actively cheering whoever was her opponent was. However as I became more interested in Tennis, I became for more aware of Billie jean's achievements and struggles she want through. Looking back now you realise how important she was to the game as a whole especially the establishment of the VS tour and perhaps more importantly her influence on womens sport in general.

In terms of how she ranks in terms of the greats of the game, I think it was Ann Jones who said that if you wanted someone to play for your life it was Billie Jean. Does this not say it all about her greatness!

trivfun
Nov 15th, 2006, 02:06 PM
You need to watch more of the great matches from the 60s and 70s. You'll see that Margaret Court did have a great return of serve, in fact, it was on the backhand side her chip and flat drive returns were weapons, and her cross-court forehand drive was hit very much like Pete Sampras' later- tons of pace and dipping fast for angles. And pardon me, but to compare Chris Evert's baseline prowess to any of the Maleevas is just ludicrous. She was a better player than Nancy Richey, who sometimes could stay with Chrissie in terms of consistency, but more often than not couldn't. Billie Jean King in her prime was capable of beating every type of opponent, and frankly, not just adequate players, some of the best out there. She was a better serve-and-volley player than Margaret Court, and was only in trouble against Madge when Mighty Madge asserted her physical stature on the matches they played. As much as I love watching Margaret play, on any given day, with both players at their peaks, Billie Jean King would've won the match, and I submit she would've beaten Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, and Steffi Graf and Monica Seles too. She was that good.



The only way Billie Jean is to do what Steffi did to Monica in 1992 bring the media and fans against her in Wimbledon because Martina said that Monica was her most difficult opponent because her wristy style of hitting from both sides. You couldn't tell if she was going to hit it down the line on the both sides of the court, drop shot you, or lob you. Finally, she could switch over so fast from one two-handed grip from the left to the right. Sort of like Steffi Graf on her forehand.. So, you didn't know how she was going to hit it. On most returns, you look at the person's shoulder but you couldn't do that with Monica. Also, the fact that Monica was lefty made it difficult to return her serve. She hit incredible angles with spin.

Bud Collins even said that Monica was the best player, he had ever seen. Martina faced the Chris's clones and players like Andrea Jaeger. Unfortunately, they died out too soon because they couldn't handle the demands of the schedule.

Martina did play Goolagoong in her prime. Chris was a given but my main point is Martina was a lefty with a good serve but not a great forehand which could get shaky at times which is what Billie used to do a lot. Martina as well as Stefan Edberg had to use ultra fitness to overcome a lot as well as their speed. Every opponent was tough for her whether it was Judy Dalton or Betina Bunge. She simply used her serve to neutralize their exploitation of the forehand and her speed to run her opponents to death. Unfortunately, for Martina unlike Chris and before, you couldn't do that to Steffi and Monica.

alfajeffster
Nov 16th, 2006, 12:57 PM
The only way Billie Jean is to do what Steffi did to Monica in 1992 bring the media and fans against her in Wimbledon because Martina said that Monica was her most difficult opponent because her wristy style of hitting from both sides. You couldn't tell if she was going to hit it down the line on the both sides of the court, drop shot you, or lob you. Finally, she could switch over so fast from one two-handed grip from the left to the right. Sort of like Steffi Graf on her forehand.. So, you didn't know how she was going to hit it. On most returns, you look at the person's shoulder but you couldn't do that with Monica. Also, the fact that Monica was lefty made it difficult to return her serve. She hit incredible angles with spin.

Bud Collins even said that Monica was the best player, he had ever seen. Martina faced the Chris's clones and players like Andrea Jaeger. Unfortunately, they died out too soon because they couldn't handle the demands of the schedule.

Martina did play Goolagoong in her prime. Chris was a given but my main point is Martina was a lefty with a good serve but not a great forehand which could get shaky at times which is what Billie used to do a lot. Martina as well as Stefan Edberg had to use ultra fitness to overcome a lot as well as their speed. Every opponent was tough for her whether it was Judy Dalton or Betina Bunge. She simply used her serve to neutralize their exploitation of the forehand and her speed to run her opponents to death. Unfortunately, for Martina unlike Chris and before, you couldn't do that to Steffi and Monica.

A couple of things to point out- Steffi Graf had an easier time with Monica Seles' game, even on clay, because Monica's pace and work on the ball varied very little. Graf got the same look regardless of the disguise, and she was much quicker than Seles, and could take Monica out of her strike zone better than anyone else, including Martina, with that knifing slice backhand crosscourt to the Seles forehand. Also, Monica didn't change her hands on the grip, just her grip from semi-western to semi-western on each two-handed shot. This wasn't any kind of weapon of disguise, and in fact, it was often a liability for her against Graf because she had two hands on the racquet and thus a great deal less reach when moving wide.

Secondly, with all due respect, because I do like the man and what he has accomplished, I wouldn't place too much store in the occasions Bud Collins has called a player the greatest he's ever seen. If you do enough delving into his version of women's tennis history, you will see tons of inconsistencies as well as examples where he contradicts himself. He moves with the moment, and was on the Seles bandwagon when she was on top and dominating Navratilova, his previous favorite.

Martina did not play Goolagong in her prime. Evonne's prime was between 1971-1975, and their first few matches were mostly Goolagong wins, with Martina getting the better of their encounters after that by virtue of a slower and more injury prone Goolagong, who became unable to stay with the speed of the up and coming Martina. Essentially, they are champions of different eras, but just like Billie Jean King and Margaret Court, I submit that looking at Evonne's style of play in her prime, she most definitely would've notched up quite a few, if not the majority of wins against Martina by forcing her to pass in those years Martina dominated 1983-85. Especially on grass, Evonne Goolagong was that good.

alfajeffster
Nov 16th, 2006, 01:00 PM
...I think it was Ann Jones who said that if you wanted someone to play for your life it was Billie Jean. Does this not say it all about her greatness!

It was none other than Chris Evert.

trivfun
Nov 16th, 2006, 03:04 PM
A couple of things to point out- Steffi Graf had an easier time with Monica Seles' game, even on clay, because Monica's pace and work on the ball varied very little. Graf got the same look regardless of the disguise, and she was much quicker than Seles, and could take Monica out of her strike zone better than anyone else, including Martina, with that knifing slice backhand crosscourt to the Seles forehand. Also, Monica didn't change her hands on the grip, just her grip from semi-western to semi-western on each two-handed shot. This wasn't any kind of weapon of disguise, and in fact, it was often a liability for her against Graf because she had two hands on the racquet and thus a great deal less reach when moving wide.

Secondly, with all due respect, because I do like the man and what he has accomplished, I wouldn't place too much store in the occasions Bud Collins has called a player the greatest he's ever seen. If you do enough delving into his version of women's tennis history, you will see tons of inconsistencies as well as examples where he contradicts himself. He moves with the moment, and was on the Seles bandwagon when she was on top and dominating Navratilova, his previous favorite.

Martina did not play Goolagong in her prime. Evonne's prime was between 1971-1975, and their first few matches were mostly Goolagong wins, with Martina getting the better of their encounters after that by virtue of a slower and more injury prone Goolagong, who became unable to stay with the speed of the up and coming Martina. Essentially, they are champions of different eras, but just like Billie Jean King and Margaret Court, I submit that looking at Evonne's style of play in her prime, she most definitely would've notched up quite a few, if not the majority of wins against Martina by forcing her to pass in those years Martina dominated 1983-85. Especially on grass, Evonne Goolagong was that good.



Evonne was that good but injuries really forced her retirement, I think she would have been great in the mid-80's because her concentration really improved when she married Roger. As for Monica, this is what she did to Martina and other baseliners. With Steffi, she went with power and the lines, she didn't mess around because Steffi could cover but what Monica did to her was not allow her to run around her forehand and forced mistakes.

alfajeffster
Nov 17th, 2006, 05:21 PM
Evonne was that good but injuries really forced her retirement, I think she would have been great in the mid-80's because her concentration really improved when she married Roger. As for Monica, this is what she did to Martina and other baseliners. With Steffi, she went with power and the lines, she didn't mess around because Steffi could cover but what Monica did to her was not allow her to run around her forehand and forced mistakes.

Agreed, with the exception that Evonne was markedly slower around the court after the 77-78 injuries, and especially after childbirth, even though she was enough to dazzle Austin and Evert en route to her 80 Wimbledon title. By the time she retired, she had been playing on the world tour almost regularly since 1970. While that might not seem to be a long time compared to Court or King or Evert or Navratilova, Evonne's physical structure was much less suited to the rigors of that constant pounding. She and Hana Mandlikova were similarly built, and suffered constant and nagging injuries that really hampered what should have been longer careers. Had 3 of the 4 majors stayed on grass, I bet she would've made it a longer one.

traderjo_2000
Jul 29th, 2007, 05:18 AM
love BJK, where can i purchase her matches? all links info appreciated, wonderful to find this forum!!

Rollo
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:37 PM
love BJK, where can i purchase her matches? all links info appreciated, wonderful to find this forum!!

Sorry I didn't reply to this when it was posted. Many BJK matches can be found at tennisvideos

TENNIS VIDEOS:
http://www.users.bigpond.com/tennisvideos1/


www.ChrisEvert.net (http://www.ChrisEvert.net) will also have some of her matches.

Rollo
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:45 PM
Some King images

Late 1960s

http://www.woa.tv/images/athletics/at_kingbj/at_kingbj_07_394x600.jpg

Rollo
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:46 PM
An AP photgraph of her at Wimbledon-1967

http://www.woa.tv/images/athletics/at_kingbj/at_kingbj_04_600x473.jpg

Rollo
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:49 PM
1971-this is actually two separate images put together

On the left King gets into a car after winning Forest Hills. This was in September.

On the right she celebrates being the first female athlete to win $100,000 in a single year in October at Phoenix.

http://www.woa.tv/images/athletics/at_kingbj/at_kingbj_03_600x381.jpg

Rollo
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:50 PM
1973. Mrs King whips Chris Evert 6-0 7-5 at Wimbledon.

http://www.woa.tv/images/athletics/at_kingbj/at_kingbj_01_501x600.jpg

budgebackhand
Nov 3rd, 2007, 05:43 PM
In lots of posts I have read about how Billie Jean was/is critical and bitchy about Evert and her game.

I have only ever heard Billie Jean once befroe and that was of Chris v Martina in Houston and she was VERY positive about Chis throughout the whole match. Where do those stories originate from?

Also, what was the tennis world´s reaction to Billie Jean still playing and winning in the years 81 to 83? I dont remember that era but reading the results is surprising for me that she could still hold up so well after so long.
Those comments came from the Grace Lichtenstein book, "You've come a Long Way Baby," in which Grace "shadowed" the new Virginia Slims tour by traveling with the players. Billie Jean was a central focus and figure of the book, and if you read it you'll see that Grace spent a lot of time with Billie Jean and her full-time companion and hairdresser Marilyn Barnett. Grace quoted Billie Jean often in the book. Many players were not happy with the way in which they were characterized, some even traumatized by it. As a view from the inside, it was very revealing.

That seems to be the primary source of the comment about Billie Jean's "bitchiness" about Chris Evert, in addition to what she actually did say to other players and sportswriters at the time. Billie Jean was hyper-competitive, everyone knows that. So why would it be surprising that she would criticise other players and their games? It came with the territory. It was also at a time when Billie Jean was just a player like everyone else, and looking for a way to build a career outside of tennis once her playing days were over.

Rollo
Nov 3rd, 2007, 10:22 PM
Welcome to the Blast budgebackhand!:wavey:


I wholeheartedly agree with you-timing had a lot to do with King's views of Evert in 1973. In "Long Way" Rosie Casals took pot shots at Evert too-they later became very good friends.

The "oh my God I'm sweating" and "I'd never fall down for a point" Evert was also a threat to very existence of the Virginia Slims tour King had worked so hard to build. Is it any wonder there was friction?

Chris gave as good as she got too. In 1974 she tagged King for ducking her on clay-LOL.

After King was no longer a threat for #1 they got along a lot better-even playing doubles together for a while.

Budgebackhand-do you know which women were traumatized by Grace's book?

budgebackhand
Nov 3rd, 2007, 10:59 PM
Now this is more like it! A thread to worship me!

I love you all.
I thought this was an admiration thread - who said anything about worship?

budgebackhand
Nov 3rd, 2007, 11:12 PM
Welcome to the Blast budgebackhand!:wavey:


I wholeheartedly agree with you-timing had a lot to do with King's views of Evert in 1973. In "Long Way" Rosie Casals took pot shots at Evert too-they later became very good friends.

The "oh my God I'm sweating" and "I'd never fall down for a point" Evert was also a threat to very existence of the Virginia Slims tour King had worked so hard to build. Is it any wonder there was friction?

Chris gave as good as she got too. In 1974 she tagged King for ducking her on clay-LOL.

After King was no longer a threat for #1 they got along a lot better-even playing doubles together for a while.

Budgebackhand-do you know which women were traumatized by Grace's book?
Rollo, when you mention that Evert was a threat to the very existence of the Virginia Slims tour that King had worked so hard to build it really takes much away from the other players who took risks and worked hard to build that tour as well. Not to mention, of course, Gladys Heldman, without whom there would have been no tour in the first place. It's a historically inaccurate comment. But understandable considering the way in which Billie Jean has been heaped with credit - some of which she deserved, and some of which she did not. Maybe Billie just doesn't feel comfortable correcting people when they're wrong...

Rollo
Nov 4th, 2007, 01:20 AM
Rollo, when you mention that Evert was a threat to the very existence of the Virginia Slims tour that King had worked so hard to build it really takes much away from the other players who took risks and worked hard to build that tour as well. Not to mention, of course, Gladys Heldman, without whom there would have been no tour in the first place. It's a historically inaccurate comment. But understandable considering the way in which Billie Jean has been heaped with credit - some of which she deserved, and some of which she did not. Maybe Billie just doesn't feel comfortable correcting people when they're wrong...

You're right of course-I fell into that one!

Casals, Durr (I'm loving Durr more and more as I read her interviews-gems such as "Rosie has a loud mouth" and "I am not a feminist-I'm European you know"), Richey, and Melville were all mainstays.

And it took Gladys with her media savy (World Tennis) and money connections (Joe Cullman) to put it all together.

The formation of the Slims tour would make a good book-especially as most of the participants (Gladys excepted) are still alive. Without other views it's King's version that sticks-via her autobiographies and continued media presence.

raquel
Nov 13th, 2007, 11:35 PM
Just found this interview with BJK and thought I'd post it here. I didn't know Billie was with Ilana Kloss now. Love the A4 paper she handed the journalist ;)

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/tennis/article2448710.ece

From The Times
September 14, 2007
Fight against discrimination goes on for the reluctant revolutionary

The woman who changed perceptions about her sexuality and her sport talks frankly about a ‘lifetime endeavour’ for acceptance



Matthew Syed in New York

“Maybe all my life I’ve just been trying to change things so there would be some place right for me to be” - From 'Billie Jean', the autobiography by Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King has been fighting battles for so long she would find it difficult to drop her fists even if she wanted to. Her crusades against sexism and homophobia in the Seventies and Eighties were, in their way, as revolutionary as those of Muhammad Ali against racism and Vietnam in the Sixties and Seventies. Together they shook up the world.

It is a measure of how far things have moved on that King is not merely tolerated but actively embraced by the sporting and political establishments that once vilified her. “The Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre,” she says with a lovely grin when we meet in her suite at the Flushing Meadows complex that was renamed in her honour last summer. “It has quite a ring, doesn’t it?”

To meet King, 63, is to encounter a human whirlwind. “Why d’ya go into journalism?” she asks. “Where d’ya go to college? Wotcha gonna do with the rest of your life?” Her questions come so thick and fast that I fear I may not get an opportunity to ask any of my own. When there is a pause I seize my chance, but she launches into an answer with such gusto I struggle to keep pace with my note-taking. “Here, let me help,” she says, and starts to jot down her own quotes.

When I leave 90 minutes later, head spinning, she hands me a piece of A4 with line upon line from the BJK repository of wisdom: “Don’t take anything personally”; “Always forgive”; “Everything starts with integrity”; “Never forget that 90 per cent of the media is controlled by men”.

It is the spring of 1981. Ronald Reagan is the new President, Tom Watson is the Open golf champion and King has just lost to Sue Rollinson in the first round of a tournament in Florida. At the age of 37 and with brittle knees, the former world No 1 is struggling to rediscover the form that won her 12 grand-slam singles titles.

King returns to her hotel room and notices a pink message slip. It tells her that a reporter from the Los Angeles Times has called to ask about “a lawsuit”. King instantly realises that Marilyn Barnett, her former secretary, has acted upon her threat to go public with their five-year affair and to sue for palimony. Two days later, King calls a press conference to admit that she has had a sexual relationship with Barnett. It is arguably the most controversial sexual revelation in sporting history.

“It was a nightmare at the time,” King says. “Although there were lesbians on tour and doubtless in other sports, too, nobody had come out of the closet. It seemed that for weeks all anyone was talking about was my love life. I was still married to Larry King so that even those who were broadly sympathetic felt I had breached his trust — which I had. Much of America was shocked by the affair.”

This was a time when homophobia was not merely connived at but actively endorsed by the establishment. A few years earlier, the United States Supreme Court had refused to hear the case of a teacher from Washington who was dismissed because of his sexual orientation and in 1978 the court voted not to interfere with the right of states to enforce anti-sodomy laws after a North Carolina gay man was imprisoned for a consensual sexual encounter.

However, King’s press conference was not the liberal rallying call that many had hoped for. Although she admitted to a lesbian affair, she did so with a reluctance that appalled gay-rights activists. “I hate being called a homosexual,” she said. “I don’t feel homosexual.” King bitterly regrets her comments to this day, even if she has more than made up for them with her campaigning.

“You have to remember that, at that time, I was as homophobic as most other people,” she says. “I was brought up in a household where homosexuality was rarely discussed, but when it was, my father made his views pretty clear. I was so messed up by it all that I went back to Larry for a year after the court case and continued to live a lie.

“For the whole time I was together with Marilyn, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I felt guilty because I was brought up to believe that what I was doing was wrong in the eyes of God. I felt guilty because I was cheating on Larry. And I felt guilty because I knew that if it got out it could jeopardise the women’s tour that was still in its infancy. I wasn’t just in the closet, I was at the back of the closet hiding in the corner. I was damn well trying to build a brick wall between myself and the closet door in case it slammed open.”

Do you feel at ease with your sexuality today? “Yes, but it has been a lifetime endeavour,” King, who is in a long-term relationship with Ilana Kloss, a former tennis player, says. “It was not until 51 that I fully accepted myself for who I am. I always understood rationally that there was nothing wrong with my sexuality, but it is not just about what you think but how you feel. It took 13 years of therapy to get me there, but I am glad I made it. It just goes to show it is never too late.”

The ramifications of King’s coming out were considerable. Within a year, Avon had dropped its sponsorship of the women’s tour and King estimates that over the next three seasons she lost more than $1.5 million (about £740,000) in endorsements.

Although her revelations marked a watershed in the public discourse on homosexuality, widespread prejudice remains to this day — as Graeme Le Saux’s autobiography, serialised this week in The Times, piercingly demonstrates.

“Things are nowhere near perfect,” King says. “To change the hearts and minds of people takes generations. We had slavery 300 years ago and we are still dealing with the consequences today. We have won many battles against discrimination, but the war continues.”

GeeTee
Nov 16th, 2007, 12:44 AM
While at the local pub last night, a five or ten minute show came on the big screen. It was 'America's 100 most influential sportspeople (or people)' and the episode covered BJK. It had snippets of quite a few matches and interviews with Evert and Carillo at least. Being in a pub, the sound wasn't audible though.

What surprised me was one of the clips towards the end of the show. It showed BJK shaking hands (or trying to) with Rosie Casals at the net. It was I think an indoor match, probably early 70s, and Casals didn't seem to be making any kind of eye contact with King. She kind of held her arm out and just walked along the net looking at the umpire and didn't look to be in a very good mood at all. Kind of surprised at such a shirty mood from the long-time doubles partner and ally.

Anyone know which match this was?? I'm presuming Rosie didn't win :)

tommystar
Nov 17th, 2007, 08:40 AM
Casals vs. King

1965
King 6-2 6-4 Cal State F

1967
King 6-1 6-3 Cal State F
Casals 6-4 6-4 US Clay SF
King 6-0 6-4 PSW F
King 6-3 3-6 6-2 South American F

1968
King 6-3 9-7 US Indoor F
King 6-1 6-2 French Pro SF *

1969
Casals 6-3 5-7 7-5 NSW SF
King 6-0 6-1 Wimbledon SF
King 4-6 6-3 6-2 Irish SF

1970
King 6-3 6-2 South Africa SF

1971
King 6-3 6-4 San Fran F
King 6-1 6-2 Long Beach F
King 6-3 6-2 Milwaukee F
King 1-6 7-6 6-4 Oklahoma City F
King 4-6 6-2 6-3 Boston (Ind) F
King 3-6 6-1 6-2 Birmingham, Mich F
Casals 6-4 6-4 New York F
King 4-6 7-5 6-1 San Diego F
King 6-3 6-3 Hoylake F
King 6-4 7-6 US Open F
Casals/King double default 6-6 PSW
King 6-1 4-6 6-3 Louisville F
King 7-5 6-1 Phoenix F
King 6-1 6-2 Wembley SF

traderjo_2000
Jan 15th, 2008, 04:20 AM
love seeig the aussie open. anyone know where i can purchase a copy of that great women tennis star. margaret court, loosing to bobbie riggs. i believe it was 6/0, 6/1. i have a copy of the king blow out of riggs, but i have to laugh at the tv coverasge saying how great margaret court was. when it really mattered, she couldn't handle the pressure, and folded to an overweigh, out of shape, old man. thank god for BJK.

alfajeffster
Jan 15th, 2008, 01:22 PM
love seeig the aussie open. anyone know where i can purchase a copy of that great women tennis star. margaret court, loosing to bobbie riggs. i believe it was 6/0, 6/1. i have a copy of the king blow out of riggs, but i have to laugh at the tv coverasge saying how great margaret court was. when it really mattered, she couldn't handle the pressure, and folded to an overweigh, out of shape, old man. thank god for BJK.

Billie Jean herself freely admitted that 1973 belonged to Margaret Court. Were it not for a girl named Chrissie stopping mighty Madge in the semis at Wimbledon, she very well may have won her second Grand Slam that year. I personally would've much rather seen Billie Jean play Margaret more often, because they both knew how to beat the other, and their clashes I have seen are electric tennis from all parts of the court.

traderjo_2000
Jan 16th, 2008, 02:49 AM
i agree it is sad they did not play against each other more often.

HOWEVER, while BJK was starting the virginia slims, organizing, promoting women's tennis, what did margaret do? she did nothing, she agreed to a payment of $10,000 for the riggs match, and never realized what it would mean if she lost. the match king won WASN'T a tennis match, it was a silly child's game that had most of the country believe a 55 yrs old, out of shape, has been male, would better a 28/29 yrs old women at the prime of her game. it was a joke and only needed to be played because margaret court didn't play tennis, she played the fool, and women were harmed.

a healthy, rested BJK against margaret court's lack of guts, yes king would win everytime.

please does anyone have a copy of the riggs/court match? i would really like to see it. i just read the fallout of court's folding. thanks

Johnny O
Jan 16th, 2008, 04:03 AM
i agree it is sad they did not play against each other more often.

HOWEVER, while BJK was starting the virginia slims, organizing, promoting women's tennis, what did margaret do? she did nothing, she agreed to a payment of $10,000 for the riggs match, and never realized what it would mean if she lost. the match king won WASN'T a tennis match, it was a silly child's game that had most of the country believe a 55 yrs old, out of shape, has been male, would better a 28/29 yrs old women at the prime of her game. it was a joke and only needed to be played because margaret court didn't play tennis, she played the fool, and women were harmed.

a healthy, rested BJK against margaret court's lack of guts, yes king would win everytime.

please does anyone have a copy of the riggs/court match? i would really like to see it. i just read the fallout of court's folding. thanks

Seems a tad harsh. Other than a few handful of women, of which only BJK, Casals and Melville were really top tenners, most of the others shunned the Slims Tour at the very beginning. They were cowed by the threats of disqualification by their national associations amongst other things. And don't forget, just as the Slims got going in 71, Rev Court left the tour to have a baby. When she returned, she did play on the Slims Tour, a move that went a long way to legitimizing the tour.

tennisvideos
Jan 16th, 2008, 06:33 AM
love seeig the aussie open. anyone know where i can purchase a copy of that great women tennis star. margaret court, loosing to bobbie riggs. i believe it was 6/0, 6/1. i have a copy of the king blow out of riggs, but i have to laugh at the tv coverasge saying how great margaret court was. when it really mattered, she couldn't handle the pressure, and folded to an overweigh, out of shape, old man. thank god for BJK.

Your comments and assessment are laughable really. Just because Margaret Court didn't take a circus event seriously (or whatever really happened) is inconsequential compared to how she performed on tour - in the events that mattered to her.

One just has to look at her Grand Slam final record (24 wins from 29 finals) to know that this was a gutsy woman who knew how to win when it came to the crunch. I think it's a modern day myth that suggest that Court was mentally weak. After paying close attention to her career I actually think the reverse was true - Court was as tough as they come. Of course she had a few nervous moments in her career, but I am sure all the greats did at some stage, but overall you have to say that she produced the goods when it mattered more often than most could/would/did.

24 wins from 29 GS Singles Finals
Highest GS Singles Winning percentage of the post 1960 era (even if you discount Aussie Open)
Highest Career Singles Winning percentage of the post 1960 era

You can't get these sort of results unless you are talented, gutsy and tough. :worship:


a healthy, rested BJK against margaret court's lack of guts, yes king would win everytime..

What an outrageous statement. How about a bit of respect? Court had a great record against King and I think their H2H was a pretty accurate reflection how they matched up overall. Yes, King had knee problems at times but Court herself had retired 3 times (for a year each time) and would have suffered losses on the comeback trail that may have otherwise gone the other way. So those factors all balanced out IMO. And to have done as well as she did against Court shows how great a player King actually was. But to suggest she could have dominated Court under ANY circumstances is way off the mark!

Just to keep on track with the thread, Billie-Jean was one of the very greatest Wimbledon players in history, had an incredible tennis brain, and arguably the greatest volleyer in the history of the sport (male or female).

alfajeffster
Jan 16th, 2008, 10:23 AM
You'll get no argument from this yank- and can you imagine what she could do with the pint-sized Belgian at the net?

Andy T
Jan 16th, 2008, 05:16 PM
i agree it is sad they did not play against each other more often.

HOWEVER, while BJK was starting the virginia slims, organizing, promoting women's tennis, what did margaret do?

a healthy, rested BJK against margaret court's lack of guts, yes king would win everytime.



We agree on the first point, traderjo, at least.

Court's head to head record vs BJK proves your analysis wrong. Court had pretty much as big a career lead (roughly a 2-1 split) over King as Evert had over Goolagong over 30 or so matches and the vast majority of those encounters came outside the 70-72 period. Sadly, I've only seen two matches between them but have had the good fortune to watch them play against others often enough to understand where Ann Jones was coming from when she contrasted the two as follows: Margaret Court was the supreme athlete who was a great tennis player and BJK was a great athlete who was a supreme tennis player. That may be a sound-bite oversimplification of an assessment but it isn't totally off the wall. To Court's athletic prowess, I'd add her patience and endurance, extremely solid backcourt skills - especially when on the defensive and, of course, an excellent serve. Billie Jean had an unparallelled tactical sense and a determination second to none to add to her deft volleying skills and variety of shot.

alfajeffster
Jan 16th, 2008, 11:59 PM
Martina Navratilova remarked quite a few times from the booth yesterday that she had never seen Sharapova move so well around all parts of the court, and it made me very happy to hear her say that one of Maria's best qualities is something Billie Jean drilled into her (Martina's) head- Maria is very good at recognizing and paying attention to what's happening. Navratilova went on to point out one particular volley as an example: "You can't hit a better backhand volley than that." I'm very excited with the direction (yes, the movement toward the net) that I'm seeing in Melbourne the past few days, and I only hope some of the girls break the ice and give Billie Jean or Martina a call this year.

Ignatius
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:31 PM
You'll get no argument from this yank- and can you imagine what she could do with the pint-sized Belgian at the net?


This is a Billie Jean thread but I'm not sure whether you are referring to her or to Margaret. Can you clarify please. Thanks.

alfajeffster
Jan 18th, 2008, 11:01 AM
This is a Billie Jean thread but I'm not sure whether you are referring to her or to Margaret. Can you clarify please. Thanks.

Gladly. Billie Jean King is the best volleyer in the history of women's tennis.

traderjo_2000
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:32 PM
been on vacation, glad to see replies to my comments re court and king. re court "folding" i just got through reading "a long way baby". it is the section on court, it says something like she was well known to not handle pressure and gave some examples, i believe. someone help me here that has the book handy, it is right there to see. to her credit, court did tell billie b4 the match that riggs had a poor backhand and work that over.

riggs knew it was a "show" even said so in the above book, it was the pressure that he believe would "do the girls in". he took on the #1 womens' player[court] and beat her because of the pressure. he knew bjk was fast, etc, but he believed she would also fall to the pressure. he even said he hadn't played a 5 set match since 1950 and he couldn't do it if it came to 5 sets in 1973. he said in the book[b4 the king match] he was out of shape.

i have only seen espn and have loved the mens and womens aussie open games so far. YES it does seem like afew are coming to the net. it is really what tennis needs, esp the womens game. [imo], nothing like a backhand volley at the net, billie at her best : )

newmark401
Jul 19th, 2009, 04:42 PM
This is an article by one Kim Chapin, published in "Sports Illustrated" in June 1968, when BJK was just about to defend her Wimbledon singles title for the second year in a row:

Center Court Is Her Domain

Billie Jean King has been queen of Wimbledon for two years. Although she says she would drop tennis if her husband insisted, she hopes she will someday be recognized as the best woman player of her time

This is the way it will be next Tuesday at Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Billie Jean Moffitt King, 24, of Long Beach and Berkeley, Calif. will step onto center court for her first match to open the traditional Ladies' Day program, an honor reserved for the defending champion. That day, and for the rest of the championships, she will peer out from behind rhinestone-rimmed glasses that protect her 20/400 eyes from legal blindness. She won't be thinking about her lazy thyroid or her finicky colon, which have prompted doctors to suggest she get plenty of sleep and no tension, or even about the $80,000 contract she received for turning professional earlier this spring.

What she will be thinking about is winning. She will serve and volley well, and she will hit winners off both her forehand and backhand. And she will exhort herself by slapping her thighs, squinching up her nose and uttering things like, "You idiot!" "Hit the ball, you big chicken," "Move your feet," and "Get down, you fat little thing." ( Billie Jean is 5'6" tall and weighs 140 pounds, which does not make her fat, but then she wouldn't be mistaken for Twiggy either.) And maybe if she really is moved to bigger and better verbosity she will shout, "Peanut butter and jelly!" as an errant forehand slides over the baseline. Wimbledon fans will still love her, despite the snickers, as they loved another American named John Hennessey, who, not being familiar with the niceties of royal protocol, tipped his racket and said, "Hiya, Queen," when the regal Queen Mary entered the Royal Box during the 1928 championships.

Eleven days later Billie Jean will probably win Wimbledon, in the process putting down the strongest field ever assembled for the tournament. She will have her third straight Wimbledon title, something last accomplished by Maureen Connolly in 1952-54. And most important, she will take her rightful place beside Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody and Little Mo herself.

But for a lot of reasons nobody will be really quite able to accept that, and this is something that bothers Billie Jean. She is not egoistic about it, just curious. "I don't know what it is," she said. "Even people close to me just don't believe I'm all that good." There was a time when even Bille Jean didn't believe she was all that good. In September 1964, just a few credit hours away from a Los Angeles State College degree, she suddenly crated up her textbooks, left behind her fiance and her family and headed for Australia and three months of tennis lessons. There was nothing too peculiar about this, except that Billie Jean was already one of the world's ranking players and had captivated tennis audiences everywhere. Now she wanted to turn her whole game inside out, because she still stood one cranky forehand and a good service away from the major championships — and recognized greatness.

Billie Jean did not go quietly. To all who asked she said, "I am leaving to become the No. 1 player in the world, and I can't do that and go to school at the same time," which is not the sort of thing one generally announces from the pro shop roof. As Maureen Connolly Brinker, who was a fair player in her day, said, "To do what she did was quite a brave step on her part."

"I was scared," Billie Jean said recently of that decision. "Terrified. It's bad enough when you say to yourself you're going to be No. 1, but when you tell people, wow. You suddenly feel maybe you haven't got it. When you ask anybody if they want to be No. 1 — win Wimbledon or something like that — they naturally say 'yes.' But they don't really know what it's like, and when they don't make it, it's awful."

But she believed in herself, and so did Robert Mitchell, a Melbourne tennis philanthropist who financed her three months Down Under as he had earlier helped Australians Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith. More important, Mervyn Rose, the former Aussie Davis Cup player also believed in her and offered to coach her. What it was like was eight hours a day under Rose's tutelage, when she wasn't playing in various tournaments, mainly working on her flamboyant forehand (more top spin for more control), her service (more slice for more power and variety) and her court strategy.

"At the end of each day I was physically and mentally exhausted," Billie Jean said. "The whole thing was very discouraging. I would double-fault 15 times a match with that new service and lose to just about everybody. People told me, 'Go back to your old game. You can win with it.' But Merv convinced me my game would be better."

At the end of that Australian summer Billie Jean's game was better, and instead of winning a tournament one week and losing to an unranked junior the next, she proceeded to bomb just about everybody with great regularity. The real test came later in 1965, at the U.S. Nationals in Forest Hills, N.Y. In the finals she met an old nemesis, Margaret Smith, at the time the world's top-ranked woman player. Billie Jean built 5-3 leads in both sets before losing, but no matter. "After the match Margaret told me that was the best she had ever played," Billie Jean said, "and right then I knew I had it."

Until then Billie Jean was just another promising youngster, whose clawing and gutty style of play earned her the nicknames "Little Miss Moffitt" and "Jilly Bean" and the reputation of a lively firecracker who liked to go around beating hell out of her elders.

The one match that had given her this reputation was, of course, her victory over the same Margaret Smith at Wimbledon in 1962. Smith was top-seeded; Billie Jean not seeded at all. Their second-round match went late into the third set with Smith serving for the match at 5-3, 30-15. Billie Jean remembers saying something epigrammatic to herself like, "If you're gonna do anything you'd better do it now." She did. The shot was a real live all-or-nothing backhand down the line, which caught Smith with her racket down.

Smith was finished, except three games later with Billie Jean now serving for the match at 6-5, 40-love, Billie Jean double-faulted. Then a bad call moved the score to 40-30. "I've never been so nervous," she said. "When I went back to serve I believe my knees were actually knocking." She got her first service in, then faded a backhand volley down the line to win the point and match — and the hearts of the Wimbledon crowd.

Now things are different. She has two Wimbledon titles and one victory at Forest Hills, as well as just about everything else it is possible to win. She is no longer an underdog, but an established star. Therein lies the rub.

"Everybody likes an underdog," Billie Jean said. "Even at Wimbledon they're less with me now than they were in 1962. They like young, talented people, and now they like Rosie Casals. Geez, it's so strange. I can see everything that happened to me happening to her all over again. Maybe I'm getting old.

"I don't think I've changed much. But I do things now and people nudge each other and snicker and say, 'Isn't that quaint?' Well, I've always been like that. People don't understand."

Billie Jean's supremacy will be tested at Wimbledon by three old rivals, Margaret Smith Court and Maria Bueno, both of whom are in the midst of comebacks after long layoffs, and by Nancy Richey, who has now beaten Billie Jean twice in a row, most recently in the French championships two weeks ago. None of the three are convinced Billie Jean is unbeatable, even on the fast grass of Wimbledon. Bueno, 29, whom Billie Jean defeated in the 1966 Wimbledon final, said, "I do not wish to and cannot declare I am the world's best player, or that my own technique is superior. But if I didn't think I played better it would not be worthwhile competing. We shall play and we shall see."

Court, 27, was a bit softer, but not much. "Over the past seven years I've played her many times, but I wouldn't say I had some of my best matches against her — somehow the excitement of a game with, say, Bueno, was lacking. I didn't pick up a racket for 16 months before playing against her last winter [King defeated Court for the Australian title in January], so I cannot make any comparison or analysis of our games because I was not in peak form."

For the defense Maureen Connolly herself says bluntly, " Billie Jean just has to rate as the ultimate. What she has is that rare ability to rise to the necessary pressure threshold and stay there for the big ones — those moments when it's 30-all and you've missed the first serve and have to get the second one in. Billie can get it in. She gets to that finely honed point, all tuned up like a Ferrari, and she can play at that level as long as it's necessary.

"Ann Haydon Jones always gives her a tough match, but it's that big tournament edge that gives Billie the advantage. Margaret Court can be a great power player; Maria Bueno has the classic technique. Those three and Rosie Casals are real tough and have shared a lot of titles between them. But Billie's a great champion, and it means something to have come up through that pack."

And when you get there? "When you're going for the top you think that when you get there you'll be able to reach out and know more people — help them," Billie Jean said. "But it doesn't work that way. They isolate you. I want to write a book and tell people what I'm really like, not just what they see on the court. Everybody thinks I'm tough and flaky. I'm not, am I?"

Her friends might not think so, but the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, that group of crusty establishmentarians which runs tennis in this country, might be more inclined to agree.

First, in her early career she played in tennis shorts, instead of a dress, which shocked people right there. Then she chose to come up through the ranks as a Public Parks player in Long Beach, and to the Southern California establishment, especially Perry T. Jones, who ran the whole Southern California show, that was heresy. " Jones didn't actually hurt me," Billie Jean said, "but then he didn't help me very much either."

All of this was mild, however, compared to what she said when she did reach a degree of prominence. An incessant chatterbox — she will talk with anybody who will listen, whether it is during a game of darts in a London pub or just wandering through the stands after a match — she has leveled a whole bevy of blasts against the USLTA, things like:

"They should throw out the whole bunch of them and start over again."

"I made my living as an amateur tennis player. Now that I'm a pro I just make more money, that's all."

"The one place I hate is Forest Hills. The officials — I don't know what it is — they seem to sit back and gloat when you lose, like they want you to lose."

Billie Jean has had no love for Forest Hills since 1966, when she learned that the umpire for her second-round match was to be Al Bumann, the Texas official who argued the USLTA into reversing itself and letting Nancy Richey share the country's No. 1 ranking with her. Failing in an attempt to get another umpire, Billie Jean became petulant, hit every shot as hard as she could and blew the match. It was not her finest hour.

Donna Floyd Fales, a close friend of Billie Jean's and former Federation Cup captain, said, "Amateur officials are often annoyed by her statements, but they also realize she is a great drawing card. She can afford to say those things —s he's No. 1. Billie Jean is still very immature in many ways, and she ends up boxing herself in by making impulsive and poorly considered statements. Hopefully they will do more good than harm in the long run. Her husband has been a great steadying influence over the past two or three years."

Her husband is Larry King, a polite, confident and self-effacing young man, who has got to win some award for patience under adversity. They met in the fall of 1962 at L.A. State, started going together the following spring and were married in October 1965. Though things have worked out well — after 2 years they still hold hands like high school seniors — their marriage was not exactly one of convenience. First, Larry is a year younger than Billie Jean; second, at the time of their marriage he still had a year of undergraduate work and three years of law school to look forward to; and third, with Billie Jean on the world tennis circuit, they hardly get to see each other. And when they do it's usually across a desk at the University of California law school library — he studying torts, precedents and all that; she knitting or reading Oscar Lewis. And despite that hefty $80,000 pro contract Larry still works at the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house as a waiter to help pay the bills.

"It's probably better we're apart so often," Billie Jean said. "When we are together we just enjoy each other so much, not much law gets read and I don't get much practice in."

Being the husband of a famous woman athlete does have its moments. Larry still occasionally gets asked for his autograph, which he dutifully signs as "Mr. Billie Jean King."

"I don't get put on too much anymore, though," he said. "The guys at the law school still can't believe it, but I think most of them are envious — or think I'm crazy."

But all Billie Jean says is, "I've told him if he ever wants me to quit, just say so. It's hard to stop, and it will be for me. But if he had said that 2 years ago I would have quit.

"When we were married Larry said it's a shame when people don't use their talent. I agree. I think it's the worst thing in the world."

That talent should take her to her third straight Wimbledon title. Maybe then Billie Jean King, the perpetual underdog, will get the recognition she deserves.

newmark401
Jul 19th, 2009, 06:12 PM
This article by Frank Deford, published in "Sports Illustrated" in May 1975, focusses on Bille Jean just before her last major singles win, at Wimbledon in that year, after which she temporarily retired from singles play.

Mrs. Billie Jean King!

"American girls have traditionally looked up to and emulated their favorite motion-picture stars. The film stars led lives that seemed exciting and far removed from the humdrum activities of ordinary lives, and young girls dreamed of living similar glamorous lives. Now there is a new idol...and she's Billie Jean King." — FROM A BILLIE JEAN KING PRESS RELEASE

The added irony is that she is a more passionate person than any of the voluptuous femmes fatales who ever slinked across a silver screen and buried their heaving breasts in the wet cement at Grauman's. Passion — "the gale of life," Pope called it — is why, ultimately, it has all worked for Billie Jean. First, it is to her advantage that the female vessel holds raw emotions more preciously. But besides, men are afraid to show passion themselves, and those who do possess it are advised by their colleagues to keep it down — as they say on airplanes: for your safety and convenience. Men suffer each other only to be principled or kooky, depending on the viewpoint; but the fellas, as Billie Jean invariably refers to the other gender, permit women to retain passion — presumably because its bedroom dividends are shared and because its other excesses may be conveniently used to show women as quirky, unreliable characters in need of a shoulder to cry on.

Without her tennis, Billie Jean would still have been something; without her passion, nothing. Of course, she has a number of other things going for her: typical female guile, typical male aggressiveness, typical American get-up-and-go, typical California insouciance and real good ground strokes. The fellas simply cannot let a person run around with all those assets, plus a license for passion, and not expect her to put a dent in things. "Being a girl was not the only thing I had to fight," Billie Jean says. "I was brought up to believe in the well-rounded concept, doing lotsa things a little, but not putting yourself on the line. It took me a while before I thought one day: who is it that says we have to be well-rounded? Who decided that? The people who aren't special at anything, that's who. When at last I understood that, I could really try to be special."

Very likely Billie Jean Moffitt King will go down in history as the most significant athlete of this century. That is not said lightly. But then few athletes ever reach beyond their games to exert any dominion over the rest of society. Unfortunately, the end result of Muhammad Ali, for example, is that he is merely controversial. Arnold Palmer brought mass popularity to an upper-crust diversion, and Babe Ruth salvaged his game from scandal, but, by and large, neither has been more than a broad caricature. Jackie Robinson is the exception, a sportsman who was an important figure in the American saga, but even he did not make the imprint that the lady in glasses does.

Of course, neither would have amounted to a hill of beans had they not been escorted to the front by an idea whose time had come. Much more than Billie Jean, though, Robinson had to have doors opened for him. That was not his fault, but it was so nonetheless. And while his first years were a firestorm of historic "firsts," a political groundbreaking for 10% of the population, hers is a deeper and wider legacy: she has prominently affected the way 50% of society thinks and feels about itself in the vast area of physical exercise. Moreover, like Palmer, she has made a whole sport boom because of the singular force of her presence.

Granted, women's tennis would have gotten off the ground by now without Billie Jean; and also granted, without her the revolutionary concept that exertion by American women is acceptable in pursuits other than childbirth would have begun to gain currency. Still, the fact remains that in the modern U.S., in the modern world, the promulgation and acceptance of sharp new attitudes — what are called movements or trends — utterly depend upon the emergence of a personality to embody the philosophy; or, when was the last time you saw two minutes of an idea on the six o'clock news? Billie Jean's closest cultural kin are not athletes, but people like Ralph Nader and Martin Luther King, even Hugh Hefner and The Beatles — men whose names are instantly associated with a movement, and, notably, one that effected great change. Billie Jean is foremost now a symbol, which is why, of all the athletes of our time, she is most misunderstood, both by those who detest her and those who adore her. And, as with most symbols, the real person has been appropriated; perhaps it is time to give herself back to Billie Jean.

She jams the sports car into gear and takes off, flashing around a corner, hurrying to catch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. "I love motion," she declares. Billie Jean offers little endorsements, value judgments, all the time. Her life is a daily shopping list of things she likes or, occasionally, doesn't. It is as if The Top 40, which her generation was raised on, also existed for all life, not just songs, and she went around regularly unveiling a new personal chart: chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping drops to No. 4 this week, motion moves up to No. 6, shampoos rise to 16 and so on. Lost somewhere in all the hopelessly incomplete portraits of her (including her autobiography) is the large measure of girlish enthusiasm that she still displays. What fun she is!

At 31, Billie Jean has been a world champion, a controversial celebrity, abused by substantial elements of the population. She has been fat, is hopelessly myopic and often suffers pain in both her knees, where the railroad tracks run alongside the dimples. Her marriage has gone through some rough patches. She has suffered hard financial losses and the cruel ridicule which attends them. She has been required to endure hate mail and some of the most private scrutiny given any public figure, male or female. And yet, she remains unfailingly enthusiastic, youthfully optimistic and still sprinkles her vocabulary with a combination of 1950s slumber-party giggle chatter and restoration Beatnik lingo.

Get a load of some of the things that Billie Jean says without blinking an eye: "No sweat; way to hustle; party pooper; vibes; Tight City; get my act together; where they're at; stay loose; dear heart; ticked off; you got to love it; the little girls' room; el chubbo; el spasto; from Shinola; no way; right on; truly beautiful." That's her current favorite, truly beautiful, with you got to love it moving up fast on the charts. Also, both Billie Jean and her husband Larry especially favor the word trip, usually with the adjective attached: the gratification trip, the Hollywood trip. "The celebrity is a hard trip to put on anybody," Larry says.

She parks the car at an overlook near the Golden Gate. Sometimes she and Larry come here and climb the rocks. It is peaceful and secluded, which is important because there are so few places left where she can go without being harassed. And with Billie Jean, it is not just goo-goo eyes and autographs. The women especially are anxious to touch her, and she does not like that; it scares and repels her. She also feels guilty about this because for so long she labored so fruitlessly for any recognition for herself and other women athletes.

To one side now, the Golden Gate hangs, a Tinkertoy from her vantage; to the other side, a blinking lighthouse; and out beyond them, the last of the day's sun, leaving in a haze that tosses up blue streaks with some gold, embroidered on the periphery by a pink glow. "Isn't this dynamite?" Billie Jean cries, and she opens her car door and gets out for a better look. She is quiet for a long time, the dusk and solitude falling about her shoulders. "When I really wanted attention, it wasn't there," she says. "When I came back after winning Wimbledon in '66, nobody cared. To be appreciated in my own country was all I wanted, and I got nothing. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again, like Chris or Martina, and come along now and have it all organized and get recognition so easy, but then, no matter how good it gets, I've experienced the real things no one else ever will, because I had the first-time situation. I get most of my gratification now just out of seeing the changes in the sport. I don't feel like I have to be responsible like I used to. I feel like at last I can just be happy for myself."

The last of the day's light plays across her face. Close up, it is both prettier and just a bit older than you might expect, for it is lined from exposure to the sun, but it is a soft visage, and the TV makeup people have only to highlight her eyes behind the glasses; the rest needs no drugstore attention. And, of all things, her slightly outbound teeth give her face something of a sensuous cast; they keep her lips forever parted, as in the classic Hollywood prelude to a kiss. Her eyesight is 20/400, so that her glasses are part of her by now, "my trademark," and on those rare occasions when she removes them it seems as if she has somehow undressed her face. For a time she wore various tints to match her clothes, but now she uses only the clearest lenses; she says she wants to see everything as it is, without distortions.

There is only a pink glow left to welcome the stars, and Billie Jean rubs her arms for warmth. "People prejudge me so. Why? Maybe I do come on too strong. I read all these things I've said, and I start to think myself that fire must be coming out of my ears." She shrugs. "People are always telling me when they meet me: gee, you're not at all what I thought you were. I thought you'd be tough and bitter, Billie Jean. I didn't know you'd laugh so much, Billie Jean." Her press agent, Patricia Kingsley, whose main job it is to correct this image, admits that before she met Billie Jean she thought she was "a one-dimensional tough bitch."

"People are always putting their own trip on me," Billie Jean says. "Oh, well, come on." The day is gone for good now, but the little girl in the dark will not let it depart without a final encomium. "It was truly beautiful, wasn't it?" she exclaims and, happily, roars away in the new night to play a tennis match.

No one, not even her biggest boosters, has ever argued that Billie Jean is the greatest woman player who ever lived. Most don't even think she is the best of her era, although the traditional wisdom has it that if Margaret Court is tops over the long haul, Billie Jean is the one to beat in any one match — which is certainly a chestnut that Bobby Riggs will roast. In many ways, Billie Jean's prominence in the game is accounted for largely by the fact that she and women's tennis are fused together in history and the public mind. They have grown in perfect tandem. As long ago as when Eisenhower was President, Billie Jean was ranked near the top in U.S. tennis, a pudgy adolescent in a friendly uptown game; then a lean pro, the first of the women to knock about in a new play-for-pay hustle; now a stylish star in what has become, essentially, showbiz.

Certainly, people do not come to see Billie Jean play tennis anymore so much as they come to inspect a phenomenon. At the Virginia Slims tournament in San Francisco this year, the public-address announcer introduced Billie Jean's opponent by cataloguing all her usual accomplishments and titles, and then he brought The Attraction on, his voice suddenly more resonant, trilling, like a nominator at a political convention: "And now, her opponent. Ladies and gentlemen, the working symbol for equal rights in America...Mrs.!...Billie!... Jean!...Kinggg!!!!" And she ran onto the court to a wild standing ovation.

She has cut back her tournament appearances this year and is playing only a few select ones, plus World Team Tennis. "All this tennis has become so trivial," she says. "I don't mean the playing — although I can't get psyched up anymore — but I mean all the rest, the disputes and hassles. I'm just not in the mood to fight anymore. A lot of people want me to go into politics, but after tennis, I don't have the heart for that. You know, too, the way I am, if I did go into politics I'd want to be President of the United States, and...here we go again."

It was difficult to tell quite how much she was putting herself on, threatening or trying one on for size.

World Team Tennis is the enterprise for which she reserves her greatest ardor. In return, the league has strapped Billie Jean to its back like an astronaut's life pack, shifting her from Philadelphia, where she was player-coach of the Freedoms, to the New York Sets, where she is expected to attract barrels of Big Apple publicity, thereby forcing the breath of life back into WTT's limp body.

Her husband has been a founder and club owner in WTT, and is even now league president, but those positions seem genuinely incidental to Billie Jean; she believes, with an evangelical fervor, that WTT is some kind of athletic Populism, destined to charm the masses in ways traditional tennis cannot. Billie Jean, who is absolutely bananas about music, thinks tennis has as much an artistic function as an athletic one, and WTT — an original and a hybrid — seems best able to hold all the elements of popular culture that she would like tennis to be. This is in the forefront of her mind now because she is indulging herself in something of a revisionist stage.

"When I first started out in tennis, I would rather play artistically than win," she says. "You get more satisfaction that way, but of course, when you lose, however artistically, you don't get the privilege of going out there and performing the next night, too. That was the hardest thing in tennis for this little girl to learn."

In the final dash to the top of tennis, it was not really that her game improved markedly so much as it was that she finally came to grips with who she was and that she could win. After that, there was nothing much to it, really, because everything was already in place. The hardest thing for this little girl to learn was that she had to be true to herself, to follow those passions. She was not well-rounded; she was this athlete with a zeal for achievement in a society that had no truck with women like that.

Her family — "straight out of Archie Bunker," according to Larry — was solid, traditional Protestant middle class, fired by hard work and a fear of God. Even now, her parents would like to see her abandon all this gallivanting around the world and settle down and have some kids. Growing up in Long Beach, Calif., Billie Jean deviated little from the values of her happy home. Her father, a fireman, was also a devoted sports fan, and so the daughter's participation in sports was not considered aberrant any more than her deep religious conviction. After all, going back at least as far as Jo March, little girls have been tolerated as tomboys.

Billie Jean's minister was the pole-vaulting parson, the Rev. Bob Richards. One day, when she was 13 or 14, he asked the little girl, idly, in a throwaway pastoral way, "What are you going to do with your life?"

She flabbergasted him by shooting back: "Reverend, I'm going to be the best tennis player in the world."

And yet, within another year or two, Billie Jean had learned that that was not an acceptable projection; she had learned to shade her dreams. Around this time, when she was 15, she wrote a high school theme, taking as a subject her first imagined trip to Wimbledon (which she correctly envisioned to be in 1961). The composition began: "Thump, thump, thump beat my heart. This can't be true. Here I am in New York City at 5 p.m. leaving by plane for Wimbledon, England. I still can't believe it. Here I am, 18 years of age and in one week I will be participating in what is considered to be the Tennis Championships of the World."

The story goes on. Boarding the plane, she meets Ramsey Earnhart, then one of Southern California's brightest prospects, whom she had a crush on. Darlene Hard, then a top U.S. player, greets little B.J. at the airport in London and drives her to the hotel. Darlene, Billie Jean advises us, "owned a red '50 Chevy convertible, slightly lowered, with twin pipes." Then the tournament begins, and Billie Jean reaches the quarterfinals against "none other than Darlene Hard" who beats her 10-8 in the third set. There, abruptly, the 1961 fantasy ends, but the 15-year-old appended an epilogue, which takes place in 1988, when she would be 45 years old: "Here I am at home 27 years later, sitting at home with my four wonderful children (At times they're wonderful). After the summer of '61 I entered Pomona College, in California, spending five years and graduating with a Masters Degree. I married Ramsey Earnhart — remember that boy I met on the way to the plane that day? Even though I never did achieve my ambition in tennis, I'm so glad I went ahead and received a higher education than high school instead of turning out to be a tennis bum."

And, in substance, Billie Jean lived out the first of her well-rounded declarations. She "messed around" in college, married a handsome young man, and turned tennis into a respectable, part-time pursuit, like a bridge club or stamp collecting, so that she could finish her higher education and help support Larry while he worked for his degree and their future. That just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. About then, Margaret Smith also packed it all in and went back to Perth to run a boutique.

It seems simply impossible now to contemplate how anything could have swayed Billie Jean from her destiny, to imagine how she, of all persons, would casually put it all aside when she was so very close to her goal of preeminence. She shrugs. "I know," she says. "It just shows you how totally conditioned I was. I wanted to live exactly like everybody else." She began dedicating herself to tennis only after Larry encouraged her to do so. Somehow, coming from him, that made it all right. Larry was sort of society's agent. She married him because it was the right thing to do, and so if he said it was O.K. to play tennis, well then, that was a proper enough endorsement. Her first full-time year, 1966, she won Wimbledon at last, and, along with the player, the person that is Billie Jean also began to flower.

Her presence is felt almost immediately when she enters the courts to practice, and not only because she is likely to have brought along a radio to provide some truly beautiful background music. Suddenly, the courts are alive with a bonhomie, a fresh give-and-take, and she is the cynosure.

Part of this response is because she is by now very nearly an institution. The younger kids may play and practice against her, dress with her, laugh with her, but they never forget that she is not really of them, that she is, in a very large sense, responsible for much of what they have. It is a little bit as if Dr. Naismith popped over to the gym now and then for a game of one-on-one with the boys. Kristien Kemmer Shaw, who is 22, one of the better younger tour players, says, "I'd seen Billie Jean play since I was 10. I actually had come to believe that she has a certain destiny. Since I think this way about her, well, you can understand: it got to the point where I did not want to beat her."

Kristien is one of a number of younger players who, through the years, have come in for special coaching attention from Billie Jean. Her critics suggest cynically that there is something Machiavellian in ker kindness, that Billie Jean realizes that the kids she helps will find it that much more difficult to beat her. Her admirers see quite the opposite, an altruistic devotion to women's tennis and to people. Shortly after Kristien Shaw joined the tour, she grew sick and confused and one night she just took off. "Billie Jean was the only one who cared enough to find out where I was and to contact me," Kristien says. "To play well, I had to get out from under her wing, but you couldn't find a better friend, a better person than Billie Jean King."

The fact is that Billie Jean reigns over just about everyone she encounters, not just impressionable kids. Julie Heldman is her contemporary, and even more than her intellectual match, a Stanford graduate, clever, mature and barbed. She and Billie Jean are not close, but wary and somewhat suspicious. Says Julie: "One of the reasons I've never gotten close to Billie Jean is that I've never felt strong enough to survive against that overwhelming personality of hers. People talk about me being the smart one." She shakes her head and smiles sardonically. "Let me tell you, Billie Jean's the smartest one, the cleverest one you'll ever see. She was the one who was able to channel everything into winning, into being the most consummate tennis player."

And just as she can direct herself so intensely, it is probably herself, more than others, whom Billie Jean manipulates. A British political writer who has studied Billie Jean swears that she and Henry Kissinger are the only successful tri-personalities in the world: there is a private Kissinger and King, a public one of each, too, and a third overseer ego that dispassionately watches over the other two personalities and guides them in their conduct. Make no mistake, this broad can be an artful con when she wants to.

Yet there are also great natural contradictions within her. She is, for example, genuinely shy — and who would guess that? She stares self-consciously at her feet whenever she generates applause. She hates parties and shrinks from strangers. But then, she is an unregenerate ham, who gracefully relinquishes, over her dead body, any unwitting spotlight or microphone that falls into her possession. Loyal and devoted, she has, on a few occasions, cruelly patronized her husband and a best friend, her former secretary, Marilyn Barnett, with public putdowns.

Despite her nearly compulsive call for change within tennis, Larry swears she is basically conservative. So as not to use inflammatory words, she never refers to herself as a "feminist" or "women's libber," preferring the broader "equal opportunist" or "EO," but then, not long ago she tastelessly boasted, "Christ, I'm blacker than Arthur Ashe." At the same time that she was staying up to six o'clock in the morning during a recent tournament so she could read the philosophy of Angela Davis, she was spending other parts of the day doing commercial voiceovers and preparing to fly off to do another commercial for one of her many products. She was also reading a biography of Leonardo da Vinci and she has just finished the collected works of Somerset Maugham and Herman Hesse; she grabs the sports pages first and knows all the standings.

"For a time, I think I was as close to Billie Jean as anyone ever was," says Kristien Shaw, "but as soon as I got to the point where I could read her too well, she tried to dissociate the relationship. She doesn't want to risk appearing weak in front of anybody. She told me once that if you want to be the best, you must never let anyone, anyone, know what you really feel. You see, she told me, they can't hurt you if they don't know."

With abandon and not a little bit of pride, she chucked a stone far out into the water off Cape Eleuthera, a Bahamian resort she plays out of and escapes to. Of course, she was getting generally worked up because dinner time was drawing nigh. Food and clothes are the two things that Billie Jean battles regularly, but with little success. Basically, the problem is that she has a taste for food.

All right, food. The one thing it may do is make her fat. Worse, and more immediately, the other thing it does is make her a bore. Food obsesses her, particularly when she closes in on anything edible. She knows things like exactly how many calories an average peanut has, and exactly how much of her body content is fat (13%). Although she really hasn't been fat since 1968, when she went on a crash diet, she calls herself, helplessly, "a sugarholic," and the rotund specters of the Ghost of Fat Past and the Ghost of Fat Future hover over her like chubby storm clouds. In Billie Jean's warm world of gaiety and hope, obesity is always there, fouling it all up. Some heavy tourists from Michigan walked by her on the beach, toting a Detroit Lions picnic cooler full of wondrous unknown goodies. "That's America," Billie Jean grouched, dead serious, in abject despair.

At 5'4" she weighs about 135 pounds, solid and well-placed if not curvy, the only hefty bag left being what Vogue calls cellulite, what Miss America judges call fanny overhang and what Billie Jean calls waffles. The proprietress herself likes to good-naturedly direct attention to her most lackluster reality. When she was taping an interview for a pilot of her new syndicated TV show, the sound man had affixed a tiny microphone in the middle of her chest between blouse and sweater. When he reached up under the sweater to undo it, Billie Jean cautioned him, "Watch what you grab. The way I am you couldn't tell me from the microphone." But hers is, at least, a dandy shape, vocationally speaking, like for reaching for backhands. Besides, the tennis boom seems to have enhanced the popularity of flat-chestedness, so that, in effect, Billie Jean has made her body fashionable. Grace Kelly was the last one who managed to work that dodge.

The bald fact is that Billie Jean King, athlete, ex-el chubbo, bespectacled, flat, waffled, stubby, has become something of a sex symbol. Movie stars have asked her out. There are stage-door Johnnies at tournaments. While Playboy has not invited her to pose in the raw, it did feature her in March as The Interview, firing such titillating questions at her as has she seen a dirty movie (yes, Deep Throat, but Larry got tired of it midway, so they left). Not long ago Esquire ran a long lecherous article by novelist Dan Wakefield, which was little more than an extended mash note.

Some of the interest in her most private life is more than genially searching; it borders on raw inquisition. Alone, perhaps, of any public figure, she has been asked point-blank if she is a Lesbian. She denies it. But most of the interest in the sex lives of Billie Jean and the other women players seems to be benign, of the healthy boys-will-be-boys variety previously devoted to movie queens.

Billie Jean cackles when the matter of her being a sex symbol is raised. "Hysterical! Hysterical! Me, with these little short legs!" But she is practical enough to realize that a guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls has bought a ticket as sure as the guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls' forehands. Notwithstanding the fact that Johnny Miller's face, George Foreman's musculature and Joe Namath's libido have been written about ad nauseam, a great many loony women throw a fit any time any article about a female athlete makes any reference to the bodily form that her dear soul travels in. Mere mention of the word "breast" in a sports article will turn legions of these honeys into Pavlov's bitches; 85,712, in fact, picked up their poison pens three paragraphs ago to write indignant letters to the editor.

Billie Jean herself not only thinks that sex is a dandy thing to have lurking around sports, but she also employs sex as sort of the ultimate gauge of equality between women's and men's athletics. This may be described as the Get-It Quotient, which she expounded on not long ago while enjoying a training meal of French toast. "There's a lot of ugly fellas among the male athletes," she said, "but just because they're athletes they get it all the time, don't they? Now, never mind prize money and publicity and all that. When we reach the point where all the women athletes are getting it, too, regardless of their looks, just like the fellas, then we've really arrived."

It was past four o'clock, and this was her first taste of food all day. She can set her mind to many things. And in a genuine way, she is a beauty, for her stockiness disappears when she shifts into action on the court, the waffles trumped by the total grace and fluidity of her form.

Billie Jean adores jewelry, but she has no abiding interest in clothes; she hates to shop and dresses in pretty much the same civilian outfits again and again — pants and blouse, maybe a sweater, that kind of thing. She wears them well, mercifully applying a different standard from the one that determines what she wears on the court.

As a backlash from those days when tennis was all white all the damn time, Billie Jean has it engraved on her brain that color is good; therefore more color becomes more good and lotsa color best of all. Here is one of her typical tennis outfits, one that made a young woman reporter wonder who was "sabotaging" Billie Jean: pale purple warm-up sweater, pink and pea-green dress, with a bluish swath cut between those colors across the bosom and speckled with rhinestones; dark blue panties with matching wrist bands; striped blue-and-white shoes and no ankle socks, but with those tacky little pompons sticking out at the heels. Truly.

Mr. Billie Jean King, which is how he signs autographs, is younger and better looking than the little woman, and in many ways more of an enigma. Unflappable, pragmatic, analytical, as pale of emotion as of face — many in tennis merely classify him as a dead fish and are done with it — Larry is the emotional mirror image of his wife. And yet he has undeniably been vital to her development. Behind every great woman....

Female athletes have discovered that most of them were close to their fathers. Billie Jean was even named for hers. She was to be Michelle Louise — MICHELLE LOUISE BEATS HOBBY RIGGS!; like that any better? — but Bill Moffitt was away in the war, so his wife gave him the honor. It was natural progression for Billie Jean to transfer the dependent affection from father to husband. Of all the misconceptions about Billie Jean, the single most erroneous one is that she is somehow against men. Indeed, she prefers the company of men to many types of women (housewives, for example, whom she feels lost with) and has often selected men instead of women to fill jobs where she thought the fellas were better qualified. Musing late one night, she admitted that the main reason she had to seclude herself before the Riggs match was to try to get comfortable with the idea of beating a man. "That's still not easy for me to do," she said. In the final analysis, she thinks she might not have been able to defeat Riggs, the man, except for the fact that he became so distasteful a person that "what he stood for" at last overshadowed who he was.

And so, if Larry gave her the man she very much needed when she left home, she has provided him with capital and entree, things that a poor, ambitious boy could only dream of. If anything, Larry handles the difficult role of being married to a famous woman almost too well. It never seems to be a case of him competing against her, but rather of him trying to do too much with her — which is why they have been extended financially.

The Kings' marriage is best described by Billie Jean as two circles that intersect occasionally. This arrangement absolutely fascinates people, and in the worst way, and while it upsets Billie Jean that others should be so grubby in their curiosity, Larry seems unmoved by the speculation. Despite the sweet adolescent countenance, placid speech, a no-drink, no-smoke regimen, he is a tough, stubborn kid, still only 30, who came from an indigent, broken home and who possessed an unbridled ambition long before Billie Jean was introduced to him in the college library at L.A. State. If other people want to nose around his marriage, that's their hang-up, not his.

There was a time, up till a year or so ago, when the marriage was dissolving, when the two circles were only smoke rings. For a while Larry made no bones, even in front of his wife, about going around with another player, the Australian Janet Young. Billie Jean retreated further into seclusion, protected by her secretary, Marilyn Barnett, who began as her hairdresser, then became her friend and confidante, and ultimately, many felt, her Haldeman as well.

Of course, the madness of the Riggs episode may have demanded sanctuary and change. The competition itself had the consistency of cotton candy and just as marvelously sweet a taste, but it was, as a personal experience, searing. When the cauldron finally cooled, Billie Jean and Larry seemed to discover each other again. Now they are always on the phone and coo a lot when they are together. As much as this revelation might confound some people and disappoint others, the fact is that the reason they stay together is simply that they are very much in love.

Billie Jean found another rock on the beach and flung this one angrily into the waves. "Dammit," she said, "what do people want? I just love Larry. I've gotten to the point where I can't say anything else." She looked up tenderly and shook her head a little, imploring. "I still think it is the most marvelous thing that he came into my life in any way."

Their relationship has apparently been strengthened further by shared adversity in their business ventures. Larry was studying to be a biochemist when he met Billie Jean, switched to law, in part at her urging, but is now foremost a promoter, plotting, roaming all the while. The lasting vision of Larry is of him standing in a World Team Tennis ticket booth, trying also to sell lifetime subscriptions to womenSports, as a friend walks by and calls to him: "How's the condos going, Larry?"

Billie Jean views her husband's commercial eclecticism with the same sweeping enthusiasm she gives to colors. "It's too bad we weren't born with silver spoons in our mouths," she says, "because there's 25 things we'd like to do right now if we had the money. Larry loves to solve problems, you know. I mean, Larry likes problems. He's not happy unless he's risking everything. He's got to be at the edge all the time. He loves to gamble. I have no need to gamble. What I have to do is hit backhands down the line."

If, indeed, Larry likes problems, he has been in seventh heaven lately. TennisAmerica, the Kings' tennis instruction outfit, which Billie Jean admits "has been mismanaged," had assets of $17,000, liabilities of $400,000 and a few months ago filed for bankruptcy. womenSports, which they founded last year, nearly went under before Larry found a last-ditch angel. He says of World Team Tennis that "I got my money up front," but he and Billie Jean are tied to it emotionally, if not financially, and he has had to spend much of his time lately chasing down the mean streets of the recession for the venture capital WTT needs to survive.

Billie Jean has numerous endorsement connections and she makes an additional $50,000 a year for representing Cape Eleuthera. She is so deep in affiliations that during one stretch of two weeks in New York she gave four fancy press conferences at '21'. Her press agent also handles the likes of Robert Redford and Racquel Welch. Billie Jean has a two-year contract at an annual $125,000 from ABC, plus she is trying to package her own TV show. And, of course, tennis. She makes something like $150,000 from the New York Sets and the odd $100,000 or so from old-hat tournament prize money. And yet, she has only been in the big bucks for a very few years, and the travails of TennisAmerica and womenSports have drained her resources. The unkindest remark going around the tennis community is that Billie Jean may not only be the Jackie Robinson of women's sports, but the Joe Louis as well.

Nonetheless, she has never been stronger. For a time this winter Billie Jean spoke very casually — manfully, one could say — that she would probably have to abandon her plan of selective play and enter every possible tournament, just to win enough prize money to keep the wolf from the magazine door. Last January, when the situation was most desperate, Billie Jean, out of shape and playing in Chris Evert's home state, went out and slaughtered her in a Virginia Slims final. "I probably played so well because I had to, for the money," she said. "Out of frustration comes creativity. Right?"

The magazine is the major part of King Enterprises, which employs about 25 persons and is located in San Mateo, a San Francisco runway suburb, where Billie Jean and Larry also display their first hint of domesticity: an actual apartment to live together in and Lucy, a mongrel puppy that Billie Jean's brother, Randy Moffitt, the San Francisco Giant pitcher, gave her. But then, she is still spread around. Cape Eleuthera is her official residence. For much business New York is headquarters. And, like Peter Pan, her shadow is yet elsewhere, being tailored in Beverly Hills, where her press agent, Patricia Kingsley, elegant and professional, offers to trade new lamps for old. "Pat Kingsley is the first touch of class Billie Jean's ever had around her," an old friend and associate says. "Previously, it was all a pickup game, everybody playing skins and shirts. Everything you'd accomplish with Billie Jean herself, they managed to unravel."

The public attitude toward Billie Jean may be softening, anyway, especially as she places more distance between herself and the Riggs imbroglio. It is Larry's theory, and a sound one, that although Billie Jean was nearly silent before that confrontation, many men concluded that she must somehow be the flip side of Bobby Riggs, that everything common and ridiculous he trumpeted about women, she believed about men. And then, of course, when she did beat Riggs, many men, and not a few women, traumatized, punished her.

The person is at last being distilled from that bizarre episode. Those who come to her matches now appear almost overwhelmingly to be in attendance for the purpose of paying homage to her — men and women alike. It is even sometimes rather condescending and embarrassing, as if the opponent were an interloper, intruding on the jovial intimacy of Billie Jean and the crowd. In many ways, her greater problem now involves not so much those who detest her, but those who expect too much of her.

Her dealings with organized femininity are most painfully ambivalent of all, for so many of its members assume a proprietary role with her and do not consider her own feelings — which are not necessarily straight party line, anyhow. Billie Jean slayed the Riggs dragon, didst she not? Billie Jean had an abortion and told the world. She's a member of The National Organization of Women. She's a wife on her own terms, a champion breadwinner. She started a modern woman's magazine. She signs petitions with Gloria Steinem and Margaret Mead. Yeah, sister!

"Women's lib can be so negative, so defensive, so narrow-minded," Billie Jean says in some exasperation. "They think their thing is the only thing in the world for everybody. I have to do things my own way. That's what I think equal opportunity is all about. But take the last town I played in, NOW calls me up and asks for 10 press tickets. Ten, and, of course, they're not even press. O.K., I said I'd arrange for one press credential, so two of them came and started making a fuss. Help us, they said. Look, I said, I'm just here as an entertainer. They always push me, they push. They don't know where to stop; they go over the brink. So often I have to tell them, as nicely as I can, 'Don't you see that what you're doing is abusing me? Don't you see that you're doing to me precisely what you say you don't want to be done to anyone?' "

But perhaps young girls are the most difficult for her to deal with. They besiege her and womenSports with letters, crying for advice and succor. And what can she tell them? How can she help? They write her, she says, "as if I have a magic wand." If only Billie Jean can come to their school, then they will get a basketball team, like the boys, or a track team, or more sports equipment, or uniforms, or attention, whatever. Just give us a day, Billie Jean, or an hour, and you can set it all right for us. We know you can. Please. She tries to reply, as kindly but firmly as she can, that she is not magic, and that they must try to do these things for themselves. "You know," she says, "I've never really cared what someone does. I just like people who try, people who are emotional, perfectionist. I just like to see people who are good at something work their bahoolas off."

Perhaps it is this in Billie Jean that speaks most to the young girls — and, ironically, it is an element that has nothing to do with sex. It is not their fault, but almost all famous women in this country have become celebrities simply because they are women — whether it be for their beauty, for whom they chanced to marry or that they speak for women. Appalling as it might sound, most especially for these particular principals, Cybill Shepherd, Pat Nixon and Betty Friedan are in the same bag in that it is their womanhood that accounts for their prominence. Those female celebrities who have made it on their own hook — a politician like Ella Grasso, say, or a novelist like Joyce Carol Oates — apparently seem too remote, too old, too intellectual to relate to the rank and file of younger women. What few peer models they have had previously have almost exclusively been male-selected, milk-bathed movie stars, so exquisite of face and figure as to serve more as objects of jealousy than of identification. But Billie Jean is something American girls have never experienced, a young woman who is accessible enough, imperfect in the right ways and accomplished. She appears to them not so much as an emerging woman but as an emerging person.

When SPORTS ILLUSTRATED researched a series of articles on women's sports three years ago, many of the young girls interviewed were hard put just to name a few female athletes. Several months ago, Seventeen polled its readers and found that Billie Jean King, who grew up, despite herself, to become a tennis bum, was the most admired woman in all the world. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents listed her first — think about that. Golda Meir finished second.

Ray Robinson, Seventeen's managing editor, says his staff was stunned. "This was a tremendous departure from past surveys," he says. "There is something going on out there with young girls. There are new heroines, but not the high lamas of feminism. It seems to be important to the girls that Billie Jean did it all on her own, just her and that damn tennis racket."

There was another sunset by the sea, this one in the peaceful beauty of Cape Eleuthera, where the palms stood in silhouette around the cove, sentinels against the twilight. "You know," Billie Jean said, digging in the sand with her toes, "I always had a great sense of destiny. Would you believe that? I remember once when I was five or six, I told my mother that I was going to be great. I remember, we were just standing there together in the kitchen. She smiled down at me and said something like oh, that's fine, dear, and then went right on with what she was doing." Billie Jean smiled at the recollection.

"Come on," she said then, tossing her hair against the first cool evening breeze, "I want to go back to my room and take a hot shower and then just jump into bed and get all toasty warm, from the footsies on up, between the sheets. I love that. You got to love it." And a yummy dinner would follow.

Josus57
Jul 20th, 2009, 10:41 AM
[QUOTE=Zummi;3923628]A LOT of people don't like Billie Jean in this forum. You're not going to get a fair assesment of Billie Jean around here. But then she was always very much misunderstood and underappreciated. Some things never change...

I am not a fan of Billie Jean King the tennis player, never was never will be! But, I will say this: I RESPECT HER IMMENSELY! She did not put women's tennis on the map - SHE PUT TENNIS ON THE MAP! I don't always agree with what she did, (especially the "coming out" bit, but she did what she thought was right for her), and many will pick, or be bitter for how she did it, but it was her life. I would like to thasnk her though (I only wish it was personally) for introducing me to one of my facorite things in the world - the sport of tennis!

Thank you Billie Jean King!

iainmac
Jul 20th, 2009, 01:57 PM
This is an article by one Kim Chapin, published in "Sports Illustrated" in June 1968, when BJK was just about to defend her Wimbledon singles title for the second year in a row:

Center Court Is Her Domain

Billie Jean King has been queen of Wimbledon for two years. Although she says she would drop tennis if her husband insisted, she hopes she will someday be recognized as the best woman player of her time

This is the way it will be next Tuesday at Wimbledon's All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Billie Jean Moffitt King, 24, of Long Beach and Berkeley, Calif. will step onto center court for her first match to open the traditional Ladies' Day program, an honor reserved for the defending champion. That day, and for the rest of the championships, she will peer out from behind rhinestone-rimmed glasses that protect her 20/400 eyes from legal blindness. She won't be thinking about her lazy thyroid or her finicky colon, which have prompted doctors to suggest she get plenty of sleep and no tension, or even about the $80,000 contract she received for turning professional earlier this spring.

What she will be thinking about is winning. She will serve and volley well, and she will hit winners off both her forehand and backhand. And she will exhort herself by slapping her thighs, squinching up her nose and uttering things like, "You idiot!" "Hit the ball, you big chicken," "Move your feet," and "Get down, you fat little thing." ( Billie Jean is 5'6" tall and weighs 140 pounds, which does not make her fat, but then she wouldn't be mistaken for Twiggy either.) And maybe if she really is moved to bigger and better verbosity she will shout, "Peanut butter and jelly!" as an errant forehand slides over the baseline. Wimbledon fans will still love her, despite the snickers, as they loved another American named John Hennessey, who, not being familiar with the niceties of royal protocol, tipped his racket and said, "Hiya, Queen," when the regal Queen Mary entered the Royal Box during the 1928 championships.

Eleven days later Billie Jean will probably win Wimbledon, in the process putting down the strongest field ever assembled for the tournament. She will have her third straight Wimbledon title, something last accomplished by Maureen Connolly in 1952-54. And most important, she will take her rightful place beside Suzanne Lenglen, Helen Wills Moody and Little Mo herself.

But for a lot of reasons nobody will be really quite able to accept that, and this is something that bothers Billie Jean. She is not egoistic about it, just curious. "I don't know what it is," she said. "Even people close to me just don't believe I'm all that good." There was a time when even Bille Jean didn't believe she was all that good. In September 1964, just a few credit hours away from a Los Angeles State College degree, she suddenly crated up her textbooks, left behind her fiance and her family and headed for Australia and three months of tennis lessons. There was nothing too peculiar about this, except that Billie Jean was already one of the world's ranking players and had captivated tennis audiences everywhere. Now she wanted to turn her whole game inside out, because she still stood one cranky forehand and a good service away from the major championships — and recognized greatness.

Billie Jean did not go quietly. To all who asked she said, "I am leaving to become the No. 1 player in the world, and I can't do that and go to school at the same time," which is not the sort of thing one generally announces from the pro shop roof. As Maureen Connolly Brinker, who was a fair player in her day, said, "To do what she did was quite a brave step on her part."

"I was scared," Billie Jean said recently of that decision. "Terrified. It's bad enough when you say to yourself you're going to be No. 1, but when you tell people, wow. You suddenly feel maybe you haven't got it. When you ask anybody if they want to be No. 1 — win Wimbledon or something like that — they naturally say 'yes.' But they don't really know what it's like, and when they don't make it, it's awful."

But she believed in herself, and so did Robert Mitchell, a Melbourne tennis philanthropist who financed her three months Down Under as he had earlier helped Australians Roy Emerson and Margaret Smith. More important, Mervyn Rose, the former Aussie Davis Cup player also believed in her and offered to coach her. What it was like was eight hours a day under Rose's tutelage, when she wasn't playing in various tournaments, mainly working on her flamboyant forehand (more top spin for more control), her service (more slice for more power and variety) and her court strategy.

"At the end of each day I was physically and mentally exhausted," Billie Jean said. "The whole thing was very discouraging. I would double-fault 15 times a match with that new service and lose to just about everybody. People told me, 'Go back to your old game. You can win with it.' But Merv convinced me my game would be better."

At the end of that Australian summer Billie Jean's game was better, and instead of winning a tournament one week and losing to an unranked junior the next, she proceeded to bomb just about everybody with great regularity. The real test came later in 1965, at the U.S. Nationals in Forest Hills, N.Y. In the finals she met an old nemesis, Margaret Smith, at the time the world's top-ranked woman player. Billie Jean built 5-3 leads in both sets before losing, but no matter. "After the match Margaret told me that was the best she had ever played," Billie Jean said, "and right then I knew I had it."

Until then Billie Jean was just another promising youngster, whose clawing and gutty style of play earned her the nicknames "Little Miss Moffitt" and "Jilly Bean" and the reputation of a lively firecracker who liked to go around beating hell out of her elders.

The one match that had given her this reputation was, of course, her victory over the same Margaret Smith at Wimbledon in 1962. Smith was top-seeded; Billie Jean not seeded at all. Their second-round match went late into the third set with Smith serving for the match at 5-3, 30-15. Billie Jean remembers saying something epigrammatic to herself like, "If you're gonna do anything you'd better do it now." She did. The shot was a real live all-or-nothing backhand down the line, which caught Smith with her racket down.

Smith was finished, except three games later with Billie Jean now serving for the match at 6-5, 40-love, Billie Jean double-faulted. Then a bad call moved the score to 40-30. "I've never been so nervous," she said. "When I went back to serve I believe my knees were actually knocking." She got her first service in, then faded a backhand volley down the line to win the point and match — and the hearts of the Wimbledon crowd.

Now things are different. She has two Wimbledon titles and one victory at Forest Hills, as well as just about everything else it is possible to win. She is no longer an underdog, but an established star. Therein lies the rub.

"Everybody likes an underdog," Billie Jean said. "Even at Wimbledon they're less with me now than they were in 1962. They like young, talented people, and now they like Rosie Casals. Geez, it's so strange. I can see everything that happened to me happening to her all over again. Maybe I'm getting old.

"I don't think I've changed much. But I do things now and people nudge each other and snicker and say, 'Isn't that quaint?' Well, I've always been like that. People don't understand."

Billie Jean's supremacy will be tested at Wimbledon by three old rivals, Margaret Smith Court and Maria Bueno, both of whom are in the midst of comebacks after long layoffs, and by Nancy Richey, who has now beaten Billie Jean twice in a row, most recently in the French championships two weeks ago. None of the three are convinced Billie Jean is unbeatable, even on the fast grass of Wimbledon. Bueno, 29, whom Billie Jean defeated in the 1966 Wimbledon final, said, "I do not wish to and cannot declare I am the world's best player, or that my own technique is superior. But if I didn't think I played better it would not be worthwhile competing. We shall play and we shall see."

Court, 27, was a bit softer, but not much. "Over the past seven years I've played her many times, but I wouldn't say I had some of my best matches against her — somehow the excitement of a game with, say, Bueno, was lacking. I didn't pick up a racket for 16 months before playing against her last winter [King defeated Court for the Australian title in January], so I cannot make any comparison or analysis of our games because I was not in peak form."

For the defense Maureen Connolly herself says bluntly, " Billie Jean just has to rate as the ultimate. What she has is that rare ability to rise to the necessary pressure threshold and stay there for the big ones — those moments when it's 30-all and you've missed the first serve and have to get the second one in. Billie can get it in. She gets to that finely honed point, all tuned up like a Ferrari, and she can play at that level as long as it's necessary.

"Ann Haydon Jones always gives her a tough match, but it's that big tournament edge that gives Billie the advantage. Margaret Court can be a great power player; Maria Bueno has the classic technique. Those three and Rosie Casals are real tough and have shared a lot of titles between them. But Billie's a great champion, and it means something to have come up through that pack."

And when you get there? "When you're going for the top you think that when you get there you'll be able to reach out and know more people — help them," Billie Jean said. "But it doesn't work that way. They isolate you. I want to write a book and tell people what I'm really like, not just what they see on the court. Everybody thinks I'm tough and flaky. I'm not, am I?"

Her friends might not think so, but the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association, that group of crusty establishmentarians which runs tennis in this country, might be more inclined to agree.

First, in her early career she played in tennis shorts, instead of a dress, which shocked people right there. Then she chose to come up through the ranks as a Public Parks player in Long Beach, and to the Southern California establishment, especially Perry T. Jones, who ran the whole Southern California show, that was heresy. " Jones didn't actually hurt me," Billie Jean said, "but then he didn't help me very much either."

All of this was mild, however, compared to what she said when she did reach a degree of prominence. An incessant chatterbox — she will talk with anybody who will listen, whether it is during a game of darts in a London pub or just wandering through the stands after a match — she has leveled a whole bevy of blasts against the USLTA, things like:

"They should throw out the whole bunch of them and start over again."

"I made my living as an amateur tennis player. Now that I'm a pro I just make more money, that's all."

"The one place I hate is Forest Hills. The officials — I don't know what it is — they seem to sit back and gloat when you lose, like they want you to lose."

Billie Jean has had no love for Forest Hills since 1966, when she learned that the umpire for her second-round match was to be Al Bumann, the Texas official who argued the USLTA into reversing itself and letting Nancy Richey share the country's No. 1 ranking with her. Failing in an attempt to get another umpire, Billie Jean became petulant, hit every shot as hard as she could and blew the match. It was not her finest hour.

Donna Floyd Fales, a close friend of Billie Jean's and former Federation Cup captain, said, "Amateur officials are often annoyed by her statements, but they also realize she is a great drawing card. She can afford to say those things —s he's No. 1. Billie Jean is still very immature in many ways, and she ends up boxing herself in by making impulsive and poorly considered statements. Hopefully they will do more good than harm in the long run. Her husband has been a great steadying influence over the past two or three years."

Her husband is Larry King, a polite, confident and self-effacing young man, who has got to win some award for patience under adversity. They met in the fall of 1962 at L.A. State, started going together the following spring and were married in October 1965. Though things have worked out well — after 2 years they still hold hands like high school seniors — their marriage was not exactly one of convenience. First, Larry is a year younger than Billie Jean; second, at the time of their marriage he still had a year of undergraduate work and three years of law school to look forward to; and third, with Billie Jean on the world tennis circuit, they hardly get to see each other. And when they do it's usually across a desk at the University of California law school library — he studying torts, precedents and all that; she knitting or reading Oscar Lewis. And despite that hefty $80,000 pro contract Larry still works at the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority house as a waiter to help pay the bills.

"It's probably better we're apart so often," Billie Jean said. "When we are together we just enjoy each other so much, not much law gets read and I don't get much practice in."

Being the husband of a famous woman athlete does have its moments. Larry still occasionally gets asked for his autograph, which he dutifully signs as "Mr. Billie Jean King."

"I don't get put on too much anymore, though," he said. "The guys at the law school still can't believe it, but I think most of them are envious — or think I'm crazy."

But all Billie Jean says is, "I've told him if he ever wants me to quit, just say so. It's hard to stop, and it will be for me. But if he had said that 2 years ago I would have quit.

"When we were married Larry said it's a shame when people don't use their talent. I agree. I think it's the worst thing in the world."

That talent should take her to her third straight Wimbledon title. Maybe then Billie Jean King, the perpetual underdog, will get the recognition she deserves.

That was superb and well done for posting Mark. BJK is the most influential figure in the history of the womens game and it is fine time to see her thread back up and active. Interesting to read the perspectives of Connolly. She once famously told BJK to quit and that she would not make it to the upper echelons of the game. But as it transpired that was just her way of making BJK focus more. I think that even to watch BJK now is to see a real genius at work and those low volleys that she hits are without parallel. What a player and champion she is.:worship:

iainmac
Jul 20th, 2009, 01:59 PM
This article by Frank Deford, published in "Sports Illustrated" in May 1975, focusses on Bille Jean just before her last major singles win, at Wimbledon in that year, after which she temporarily retired from singles play.

Mrs. Billie Jean King!

"American girls have traditionally looked up to and emulated their favorite motion-picture stars. The film stars led lives that seemed exciting and far removed from the humdrum activities of ordinary lives, and young girls dreamed of living similar glamorous lives. Now there is a new idol...and she's Billie Jean King." — FROM A BILLIE JEAN KING PRESS RELEASE

The added irony is that she is a more passionate person than any of the voluptuous femmes fatales who ever slinked across a silver screen and buried their heaving breasts in the wet cement at Grauman's. Passion — "the gale of life," Pope called it — is why, ultimately, it has all worked for Billie Jean. First, it is to her advantage that the female vessel holds raw emotions more preciously. But besides, men are afraid to show passion themselves, and those who do possess it are advised by their colleagues to keep it down — as they say on airplanes: for your safety and convenience. Men suffer each other only to be principled or kooky, depending on the viewpoint; but the fellas, as Billie Jean invariably refers to the other gender, permit women to retain passion — presumably because its bedroom dividends are shared and because its other excesses may be conveniently used to show women as quirky, unreliable characters in need of a shoulder to cry on.

Without her tennis, Billie Jean would still have been something; without her passion, nothing. Of course, she has a number of other things going for her: typical female guile, typical male aggressiveness, typical American get-up-and-go, typical California insouciance and real good ground strokes. The fellas simply cannot let a person run around with all those assets, plus a license for passion, and not expect her to put a dent in things. "Being a girl was not the only thing I had to fight," Billie Jean says. "I was brought up to believe in the well-rounded concept, doing lotsa things a little, but not putting yourself on the line. It took me a while before I thought one day: who is it that says we have to be well-rounded? Who decided that? The people who aren't special at anything, that's who. When at last I understood that, I could really try to be special."

Very likely Billie Jean Moffitt King will go down in history as the most significant athlete of this century. That is not said lightly. But then few athletes ever reach beyond their games to exert any dominion over the rest of society. Unfortunately, the end result of Muhammad Ali, for example, is that he is merely controversial. Arnold Palmer brought mass popularity to an upper-crust diversion, and Babe Ruth salvaged his game from scandal, but, by and large, neither has been more than a broad caricature. Jackie Robinson is the exception, a sportsman who was an important figure in the American saga, but even he did not make the imprint that the lady in glasses does.

Of course, neither would have amounted to a hill of beans had they not been escorted to the front by an idea whose time had come. Much more than Billie Jean, though, Robinson had to have doors opened for him. That was not his fault, but it was so nonetheless. And while his first years were a firestorm of historic "firsts," a political groundbreaking for 10% of the population, hers is a deeper and wider legacy: she has prominently affected the way 50% of society thinks and feels about itself in the vast area of physical exercise. Moreover, like Palmer, she has made a whole sport boom because of the singular force of her presence.

Granted, women's tennis would have gotten off the ground by now without Billie Jean; and also granted, without her the revolutionary concept that exertion by American women is acceptable in pursuits other than childbirth would have begun to gain currency. Still, the fact remains that in the modern U.S., in the modern world, the promulgation and acceptance of sharp new attitudes — what are called movements or trends — utterly depend upon the emergence of a personality to embody the philosophy; or, when was the last time you saw two minutes of an idea on the six o'clock news? Billie Jean's closest cultural kin are not athletes, but people like Ralph Nader and Martin Luther King, even Hugh Hefner and The Beatles — men whose names are instantly associated with a movement, and, notably, one that effected great change. Billie Jean is foremost now a symbol, which is why, of all the athletes of our time, she is most misunderstood, both by those who detest her and those who adore her. And, as with most symbols, the real person has been appropriated; perhaps it is time to give herself back to Billie Jean.

She jams the sports car into gear and takes off, flashing around a corner, hurrying to catch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. "I love motion," she declares. Billie Jean offers little endorsements, value judgments, all the time. Her life is a daily shopping list of things she likes or, occasionally, doesn't. It is as if The Top 40, which her generation was raised on, also existed for all life, not just songs, and she went around regularly unveiling a new personal chart: chocolate ice cream with marshmallow topping drops to No. 4 this week, motion moves up to No. 6, shampoos rise to 16 and so on. Lost somewhere in all the hopelessly incomplete portraits of her (including her autobiography) is the large measure of girlish enthusiasm that she still displays. What fun she is!

At 31, Billie Jean has been a world champion, a controversial celebrity, abused by substantial elements of the population. She has been fat, is hopelessly myopic and often suffers pain in both her knees, where the railroad tracks run alongside the dimples. Her marriage has gone through some rough patches. She has suffered hard financial losses and the cruel ridicule which attends them. She has been required to endure hate mail and some of the most private scrutiny given any public figure, male or female. And yet, she remains unfailingly enthusiastic, youthfully optimistic and still sprinkles her vocabulary with a combination of 1950s slumber-party giggle chatter and restoration Beatnik lingo.

Get a load of some of the things that Billie Jean says without blinking an eye: "No sweat; way to hustle; party pooper; vibes; Tight City; get my act together; where they're at; stay loose; dear heart; ticked off; you got to love it; the little girls' room; el chubbo; el spasto; from Shinola; no way; right on; truly beautiful." That's her current favorite, truly beautiful, with you got to love it moving up fast on the charts. Also, both Billie Jean and her husband Larry especially favor the word trip, usually with the adjective attached: the gratification trip, the Hollywood trip. "The celebrity is a hard trip to put on anybody," Larry says.

She parks the car at an overlook near the Golden Gate. Sometimes she and Larry come here and climb the rocks. It is peaceful and secluded, which is important because there are so few places left where she can go without being harassed. And with Billie Jean, it is not just goo-goo eyes and autographs. The women especially are anxious to touch her, and she does not like that; it scares and repels her. She also feels guilty about this because for so long she labored so fruitlessly for any recognition for herself and other women athletes.

To one side now, the Golden Gate hangs, a Tinkertoy from her vantage; to the other side, a blinking lighthouse; and out beyond them, the last of the day's sun, leaving in a haze that tosses up blue streaks with some gold, embroidered on the periphery by a pink glow. "Isn't this dynamite?" Billie Jean cries, and she opens her car door and gets out for a better look. She is quiet for a long time, the dusk and solitude falling about her shoulders. "When I really wanted attention, it wasn't there," she says. "When I came back after winning Wimbledon in '66, nobody cared. To be appreciated in my own country was all I wanted, and I got nothing. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again, like Chris or Martina, and come along now and have it all organized and get recognition so easy, but then, no matter how good it gets, I've experienced the real things no one else ever will, because I had the first-time situation. I get most of my gratification now just out of seeing the changes in the sport. I don't feel like I have to be responsible like I used to. I feel like at last I can just be happy for myself."

The last of the day's light plays across her face. Close up, it is both prettier and just a bit older than you might expect, for it is lined from exposure to the sun, but it is a soft visage, and the TV makeup people have only to highlight her eyes behind the glasses; the rest needs no drugstore attention. And, of all things, her slightly outbound teeth give her face something of a sensuous cast; they keep her lips forever parted, as in the classic Hollywood prelude to a kiss. Her eyesight is 20/400, so that her glasses are part of her by now, "my trademark," and on those rare occasions when she removes them it seems as if she has somehow undressed her face. For a time she wore various tints to match her clothes, but now she uses only the clearest lenses; she says she wants to see everything as it is, without distortions.

There is only a pink glow left to welcome the stars, and Billie Jean rubs her arms for warmth. "People prejudge me so. Why? Maybe I do come on too strong. I read all these things I've said, and I start to think myself that fire must be coming out of my ears." She shrugs. "People are always telling me when they meet me: gee, you're not at all what I thought you were. I thought you'd be tough and bitter, Billie Jean. I didn't know you'd laugh so much, Billie Jean." Her press agent, Patricia Kingsley, whose main job it is to correct this image, admits that before she met Billie Jean she thought she was "a one-dimensional tough bitch."

"People are always putting their own trip on me," Billie Jean says. "Oh, well, come on." The day is gone for good now, but the little girl in the dark will not let it depart without a final encomium. "It was truly beautiful, wasn't it?" she exclaims and, happily, roars away in the new night to play a tennis match.

No one, not even her biggest boosters, has ever argued that Billie Jean is the greatest woman player who ever lived. Most don't even think she is the best of her era, although the traditional wisdom has it that if Margaret Court is tops over the long haul, Billie Jean is the one to beat in any one match — which is certainly a chestnut that Bobby Riggs will roast. In many ways, Billie Jean's prominence in the game is accounted for largely by the fact that she and women's tennis are fused together in history and the public mind. They have grown in perfect tandem. As long ago as when Eisenhower was President, Billie Jean was ranked near the top in U.S. tennis, a pudgy adolescent in a friendly uptown game; then a lean pro, the first of the women to knock about in a new play-for-pay hustle; now a stylish star in what has become, essentially, showbiz.

Certainly, people do not come to see Billie Jean play tennis anymore so much as they come to inspect a phenomenon. At the Virginia Slims tournament in San Francisco this year, the public-address announcer introduced Billie Jean's opponent by cataloguing all her usual accomplishments and titles, and then he brought The Attraction on, his voice suddenly more resonant, trilling, like a nominator at a political convention: "And now, her opponent. Ladies and gentlemen, the working symbol for equal rights in America...Mrs.!...Billie!... Jean!...Kinggg!!!!" And she ran onto the court to a wild standing ovation.

She has cut back her tournament appearances this year and is playing only a few select ones, plus World Team Tennis. "All this tennis has become so trivial," she says. "I don't mean the playing — although I can't get psyched up anymore — but I mean all the rest, the disputes and hassles. I'm just not in the mood to fight anymore. A lot of people want me to go into politics, but after tennis, I don't have the heart for that. You know, too, the way I am, if I did go into politics I'd want to be President of the United States, and...here we go again."

It was difficult to tell quite how much she was putting herself on, threatening or trying one on for size.

World Team Tennis is the enterprise for which she reserves her greatest ardor. In return, the league has strapped Billie Jean to its back like an astronaut's life pack, shifting her from Philadelphia, where she was player-coach of the Freedoms, to the New York Sets, where she is expected to attract barrels of Big Apple publicity, thereby forcing the breath of life back into WTT's limp body.

Her husband has been a founder and club owner in WTT, and is even now league president, but those positions seem genuinely incidental to Billie Jean; she believes, with an evangelical fervor, that WTT is some kind of athletic Populism, destined to charm the masses in ways traditional tennis cannot. Billie Jean, who is absolutely bananas about music, thinks tennis has as much an artistic function as an athletic one, and WTT — an original and a hybrid — seems best able to hold all the elements of popular culture that she would like tennis to be. This is in the forefront of her mind now because she is indulging herself in something of a revisionist stage.

"When I first started out in tennis, I would rather play artistically than win," she says. "You get more satisfaction that way, but of course, when you lose, however artistically, you don't get the privilege of going out there and performing the next night, too. That was the hardest thing in tennis for this little girl to learn."

In the final dash to the top of tennis, it was not really that her game improved markedly so much as it was that she finally came to grips with who she was and that she could win. After that, there was nothing much to it, really, because everything was already in place. The hardest thing for this little girl to learn was that she had to be true to herself, to follow those passions. She was not well-rounded; she was this athlete with a zeal for achievement in a society that had no truck with women like that.

Her family — "straight out of Archie Bunker," according to Larry — was solid, traditional Protestant middle class, fired by hard work and a fear of God. Even now, her parents would like to see her abandon all this gallivanting around the world and settle down and have some kids. Growing up in Long Beach, Calif., Billie Jean deviated little from the values of her happy home. Her father, a fireman, was also a devoted sports fan, and so the daughter's participation in sports was not considered aberrant any more than her deep religious conviction. After all, going back at least as far as Jo March, little girls have been tolerated as tomboys.

Billie Jean's minister was the pole-vaulting parson, the Rev. Bob Richards. One day, when she was 13 or 14, he asked the little girl, idly, in a throwaway pastoral way, "What are you going to do with your life?"

She flabbergasted him by shooting back: "Reverend, I'm going to be the best tennis player in the world."

And yet, within another year or two, Billie Jean had learned that that was not an acceptable projection; she had learned to shade her dreams. Around this time, when she was 15, she wrote a high school theme, taking as a subject her first imagined trip to Wimbledon (which she correctly envisioned to be in 1961). The composition began: "Thump, thump, thump beat my heart. This can't be true. Here I am in New York City at 5 p.m. leaving by plane for Wimbledon, England. I still can't believe it. Here I am, 18 years of age and in one week I will be participating in what is considered to be the Tennis Championships of the World."

The story goes on. Boarding the plane, she meets Ramsey Earnhart, then one of Southern California's brightest prospects, whom she had a crush on. Darlene Hard, then a top U.S. player, greets little B.J. at the airport in London and drives her to the hotel. Darlene, Billie Jean advises us, "owned a red '50 Chevy convertible, slightly lowered, with twin pipes." Then the tournament begins, and Billie Jean reaches the quarterfinals against "none other than Darlene Hard" who beats her 10-8 in the third set. There, abruptly, the 1961 fantasy ends, but the 15-year-old appended an epilogue, which takes place in 1988, when she would be 45 years old: "Here I am at home 27 years later, sitting at home with my four wonderful children (At times they're wonderful). After the summer of '61 I entered Pomona College, in California, spending five years and graduating with a Masters Degree. I married Ramsey Earnhart — remember that boy I met on the way to the plane that day? Even though I never did achieve my ambition in tennis, I'm so glad I went ahead and received a higher education than high school instead of turning out to be a tennis bum."

And, in substance, Billie Jean lived out the first of her well-rounded declarations. She "messed around" in college, married a handsome young man, and turned tennis into a respectable, part-time pursuit, like a bridge club or stamp collecting, so that she could finish her higher education and help support Larry while he worked for his degree and their future. That just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. About then, Margaret Smith also packed it all in and went back to Perth to run a boutique.

It seems simply impossible now to contemplate how anything could have swayed Billie Jean from her destiny, to imagine how she, of all persons, would casually put it all aside when she was so very close to her goal of preeminence. She shrugs. "I know," she says. "It just shows you how totally conditioned I was. I wanted to live exactly like everybody else." She began dedicating herself to tennis only after Larry encouraged her to do so. Somehow, coming from him, that made it all right. Larry was sort of society's agent. She married him because it was the right thing to do, and so if he said it was O.K. to play tennis, well then, that was a proper enough endorsement. Her first full-time year, 1966, she won Wimbledon at last, and, along with the player, the person that is Billie Jean also began to flower.

Her presence is felt almost immediately when she enters the courts to practice, and not only because she is likely to have brought along a radio to provide some truly beautiful background music. Suddenly, the courts are alive with a bonhomie, a fresh give-and-take, and she is the cynosure.

Part of this response is because she is by now very nearly an institution. The younger kids may play and practice against her, dress with her, laugh with her, but they never forget that she is not really of them, that she is, in a very large sense, responsible for much of what they have. It is a little bit as if Dr. Naismith popped over to the gym now and then for a game of one-on-one with the boys. Kristien Kemmer Shaw, who is 22, one of the better younger tour players, says, "I'd seen Billie Jean play since I was 10. I actually had come to believe that she has a certain destiny. Since I think this way about her, well, you can understand: it got to the point where I did not want to beat her."

Kristien is one of a number of younger players who, through the years, have come in for special coaching attention from Billie Jean. Her critics suggest cynically that there is something Machiavellian in ker kindness, that Billie Jean realizes that the kids she helps will find it that much more difficult to beat her. Her admirers see quite the opposite, an altruistic devotion to women's tennis and to people. Shortly after Kristien Shaw joined the tour, she grew sick and confused and one night she just took off. "Billie Jean was the only one who cared enough to find out where I was and to contact me," Kristien says. "To play well, I had to get out from under her wing, but you couldn't find a better friend, a better person than Billie Jean King."

The fact is that Billie Jean reigns over just about everyone she encounters, not just impressionable kids. Julie Heldman is her contemporary, and even more than her intellectual match, a Stanford graduate, clever, mature and barbed. She and Billie Jean are not close, but wary and somewhat suspicious. Says Julie: "One of the reasons I've never gotten close to Billie Jean is that I've never felt strong enough to survive against that overwhelming personality of hers. People talk about me being the smart one." She shakes her head and smiles sardonically. "Let me tell you, Billie Jean's the smartest one, the cleverest one you'll ever see. She was the one who was able to channel everything into winning, into being the most consummate tennis player."

And just as she can direct herself so intensely, it is probably herself, more than others, whom Billie Jean manipulates. A British political writer who has studied Billie Jean swears that she and Henry Kissinger are the only successful tri-personalities in the world: there is a private Kissinger and King, a public one of each, too, and a third overseer ego that dispassionately watches over the other two personalities and guides them in their conduct. Make no mistake, this broad can be an artful con when she wants to.

Yet there are also great natural contradictions within her. She is, for example, genuinely shy — and who would guess that? She stares self-consciously at her feet whenever she generates applause. She hates parties and shrinks from strangers. But then, she is an unregenerate ham, who gracefully relinquishes, over her dead body, any unwitting spotlight or microphone that falls into her possession. Loyal and devoted, she has, on a few occasions, cruelly patronized her husband and a best friend, her former secretary, Marilyn Barnett, with public putdowns.

Despite her nearly compulsive call for change within tennis, Larry swears she is basically conservative. So as not to use inflammatory words, she never refers to herself as a "feminist" or "women's libber," preferring the broader "equal opportunist" or "EO," but then, not long ago she tastelessly boasted, "Christ, I'm blacker than Arthur Ashe." At the same time that she was staying up to six o'clock in the morning during a recent tournament so she could read the philosophy of Angela Davis, she was spending other parts of the day doing commercial voiceovers and preparing to fly off to do another commercial for one of her many products. She was also reading a biography of Leonardo da Vinci and she has just finished the collected works of Somerset Maugham and Herman Hesse; she grabs the sports pages first and knows all the standings.

"For a time, I think I was as close to Billie Jean as anyone ever was," says Kristien Shaw, "but as soon as I got to the point where I could read her too well, she tried to dissociate the relationship. She doesn't want to risk appearing weak in front of anybody. She told me once that if you want to be the best, you must never let anyone, anyone, know what you really feel. You see, she told me, they can't hurt you if they don't know."

With abandon and not a little bit of pride, she chucked a stone far out into the water off Cape Eleuthera, a Bahamian resort she plays out of and escapes to. Of course, she was getting generally worked up because dinner time was drawing nigh. Food and clothes are the two things that Billie Jean battles regularly, but with little success. Basically, the problem is that she has a taste for food.

All right, food. The one thing it may do is make her fat. Worse, and more immediately, the other thing it does is make her a bore. Food obsesses her, particularly when she closes in on anything edible. She knows things like exactly how many calories an average peanut has, and exactly how much of her body content is fat (13%). Although she really hasn't been fat since 1968, when she went on a crash diet, she calls herself, helplessly, "a sugarholic," and the rotund specters of the Ghost of Fat Past and the Ghost of Fat Future hover over her like chubby storm clouds. In Billie Jean's warm world of gaiety and hope, obesity is always there, fouling it all up. Some heavy tourists from Michigan walked by her on the beach, toting a Detroit Lions picnic cooler full of wondrous unknown goodies. "That's America," Billie Jean grouched, dead serious, in abject despair.

At 5'4" she weighs about 135 pounds, solid and well-placed if not curvy, the only hefty bag left being what Vogue calls cellulite, what Miss America judges call fanny overhang and what Billie Jean calls waffles. The proprietress herself likes to good-naturedly direct attention to her most lackluster reality. When she was taping an interview for a pilot of her new syndicated TV show, the sound man had affixed a tiny microphone in the middle of her chest between blouse and sweater. When he reached up under the sweater to undo it, Billie Jean cautioned him, "Watch what you grab. The way I am you couldn't tell me from the microphone." But hers is, at least, a dandy shape, vocationally speaking, like for reaching for backhands. Besides, the tennis boom seems to have enhanced the popularity of flat-chestedness, so that, in effect, Billie Jean has made her body fashionable. Grace Kelly was the last one who managed to work that dodge.

The bald fact is that Billie Jean King, athlete, ex-el chubbo, bespectacled, flat, waffled, stubby, has become something of a sex symbol. Movie stars have asked her out. There are stage-door Johnnies at tournaments. While Playboy has not invited her to pose in the raw, it did feature her in March as The Interview, firing such titillating questions at her as has she seen a dirty movie (yes, Deep Throat, but Larry got tired of it midway, so they left). Not long ago Esquire ran a long lecherous article by novelist Dan Wakefield, which was little more than an extended mash note.

Some of the interest in her most private life is more than genially searching; it borders on raw inquisition. Alone, perhaps, of any public figure, she has been asked point-blank if she is a Lesbian. She denies it. But most of the interest in the sex lives of Billie Jean and the other women players seems to be benign, of the healthy boys-will-be-boys variety previously devoted to movie queens.

Billie Jean cackles when the matter of her being a sex symbol is raised. "Hysterical! Hysterical! Me, with these little short legs!" But she is practical enough to realize that a guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls has bought a ticket as sure as the guy who buys a ticket to look at the girls' forehands. Notwithstanding the fact that Johnny Miller's face, George Foreman's musculature and Joe Namath's libido have been written about ad nauseam, a great many loony women throw a fit any time any article about a female athlete makes any reference to the bodily form that her dear soul travels in. Mere mention of the word "breast" in a sports article will turn legions of these honeys into Pavlov's bitches; 85,712, in fact, picked up their poison pens three paragraphs ago to write indignant letters to the editor.

Billie Jean herself not only thinks that sex is a dandy thing to have lurking around sports, but she also employs sex as sort of the ultimate gauge of equality between women's and men's athletics. This may be described as the Get-It Quotient, which she expounded on not long ago while enjoying a training meal of French toast. "There's a lot of ugly fellas among the male athletes," she said, "but just because they're athletes they get it all the time, don't they? Now, never mind prize money and publicity and all that. When we reach the point where all the women athletes are getting it, too, regardless of their looks, just like the fellas, then we've really arrived."

It was past four o'clock, and this was her first taste of food all day. She can set her mind to many things. And in a genuine way, she is a beauty, for her stockiness disappears when she shifts into action on the court, the waffles trumped by the total grace and fluidity of her form.

Billie Jean adores jewelry, but she has no abiding interest in clothes; she hates to shop and dresses in pretty much the same civilian outfits again and again — pants and blouse, maybe a sweater, that kind of thing. She wears them well, mercifully applying a different standard from the one that determines what she wears on the court.

As a backlash from those days when tennis was all white all the damn time, Billie Jean has it engraved on her brain that color is good; therefore more color becomes more good and lotsa color best of all. Here is one of her typical tennis outfits, one that made a young woman reporter wonder who was "sabotaging" Billie Jean: pale purple warm-up sweater, pink and pea-green dress, with a bluish swath cut between those colors across the bosom and speckled with rhinestones; dark blue panties with matching wrist bands; striped blue-and-white shoes and no ankle socks, but with those tacky little pompons sticking out at the heels. Truly.

Mr. Billie Jean King, which is how he signs autographs, is younger and better looking than the little woman, and in many ways more of an enigma. Unflappable, pragmatic, analytical, as pale of emotion as of face — many in tennis merely classify him as a dead fish and are done with it — Larry is the emotional mirror image of his wife. And yet he has undeniably been vital to her development. Behind every great woman....

Female athletes have discovered that most of them were close to their fathers. Billie Jean was even named for hers. She was to be Michelle Louise — MICHELLE LOUISE BEATS HOBBY RIGGS!; like that any better? — but Bill Moffitt was away in the war, so his wife gave him the honor. It was natural progression for Billie Jean to transfer the dependent affection from father to husband. Of all the misconceptions about Billie Jean, the single most erroneous one is that she is somehow against men. Indeed, she prefers the company of men to many types of women (housewives, for example, whom she feels lost with) and has often selected men instead of women to fill jobs where she thought the fellas were better qualified. Musing late one night, she admitted that the main reason she had to seclude herself before the Riggs match was to try to get comfortable with the idea of beating a man. "That's still not easy for me to do," she said. In the final analysis, she thinks she might not have been able to defeat Riggs, the man, except for the fact that he became so distasteful a person that "what he stood for" at last overshadowed who he was.

And so, if Larry gave her the man she very much needed when she left home, she has provided him with capital and entree, things that a poor, ambitious boy could only dream of. If anything, Larry handles the difficult role of being married to a famous woman almost too well. It never seems to be a case of him competing against her, but rather of him trying to do too much with her — which is why they have been extended financially.

The Kings' marriage is best described by Billie Jean as two circles that intersect occasionally. This arrangement absolutely fascinates people, and in the worst way, and while it upsets Billie Jean that others should be so grubby in their curiosity, Larry seems unmoved by the speculation. Despite the sweet adolescent countenance, placid speech, a no-drink, no-smoke regimen, he is a tough, stubborn kid, still only 30, who came from an indigent, broken home and who possessed an unbridled ambition long before Billie Jean was introduced to him in the college library at L.A. State. If other people want to nose around his marriage, that's their hang-up, not his.

There was a time, up till a year or so ago, when the marriage was dissolving, when the two circles were only smoke rings. For a while Larry made no bones, even in front of his wife, about going around with another player, the Australian Janet Young. Billie Jean retreated further into seclusion, protected by her secretary, Marilyn Barnett, who began as her hairdresser, then became her friend and confidante, and ultimately, many felt, her Haldeman as well.

Of course, the madness of the Riggs episode may have demanded sanctuary and change. The competition itself had the consistency of cotton candy and just as marvelously sweet a taste, but it was, as a personal experience, searing. When the cauldron finally cooled, Billie Jean and Larry seemed to discover each other again. Now they are always on the phone and coo a lot when they are together. As much as this revelation might confound some people and disappoint others, the fact is that the reason they stay together is simply that they are very much in love.

Billie Jean found another rock on the beach and flung this one angrily into the waves. "Dammit," she said, "what do people want? I just love Larry. I've gotten to the point where I can't say anything else." She looked up tenderly and shook her head a little, imploring. "I still think it is the most marvelous thing that he came into my life in any way."

Their relationship has apparently been strengthened further by shared adversity in their business ventures. Larry was studying to be a biochemist when he met Billie Jean, switched to law, in part at her urging, but is now foremost a promoter, plotting, roaming all the while. The lasting vision of Larry is of him standing in a World Team Tennis ticket booth, trying also to sell lifetime subscriptions to womenSports, as a friend walks by and calls to him: "How's the condos going, Larry?"

Billie Jean views her husband's commercial eclecticism with the same sweeping enthusiasm she gives to colors. "It's too bad we weren't born with silver spoons in our mouths," she says, "because there's 25 things we'd like to do right now if we had the money. Larry loves to solve problems, you know. I mean, Larry likes problems. He's not happy unless he's risking everything. He's got to be at the edge all the time. He loves to gamble. I have no need to gamble. What I have to do is hit backhands down the line."

If, indeed, Larry likes problems, he has been in seventh heaven lately. TennisAmerica, the Kings' tennis instruction outfit, which Billie Jean admits "has been mismanaged," had assets of $17,000, liabilities of $400,000 and a few months ago filed for bankruptcy. womenSports, which they founded last year, nearly went under before Larry found a last-ditch angel. He says of World Team Tennis that "I got my money up front," but he and Billie Jean are tied to it emotionally, if not financially, and he has had to spend much of his time lately chasing down the mean streets of the recession for the venture capital WTT needs to survive.

Billie Jean has numerous endorsement connections and she makes an additional $50,000 a year for representing Cape Eleuthera. She is so deep in affiliations that during one stretch of two weeks in New York she gave four fancy press conferences at '21'. Her press agent also handles the likes of Robert Redford and Racquel Welch. Billie Jean has a two-year contract at an annual $125,000 from ABC, plus she is trying to package her own TV show. And, of course, tennis. She makes something like $150,000 from the New York Sets and the odd $100,000 or so from old-hat tournament prize money. And yet, she has only been in the big bucks for a very few years, and the travails of TennisAmerica and womenSports have drained her resources. The unkindest remark going around the tennis community is that Billie Jean may not only be the Jackie Robinson of women's sports, but the Joe Louis as well.

Nonetheless, she has never been stronger. For a time this winter Billie Jean spoke very casually — manfully, one could say — that she would probably have to abandon her plan of selective play and enter every possible tournament, just to win enough prize money to keep the wolf from the magazine door. Last January, when the situation was most desperate, Billie Jean, out of shape and playing in Chris Evert's home state, went out and slaughtered her in a Virginia Slims final. "I probably played so well because I had to, for the money," she said. "Out of frustration comes creativity. Right?"

The magazine is the major part of King Enterprises, which employs about 25 persons and is located in San Mateo, a San Francisco runway suburb, where Billie Jean and Larry also display their first hint of domesticity: an actual apartment to live together in and Lucy, a mongrel puppy that Billie Jean's brother, Randy Moffitt, the San Francisco Giant pitcher, gave her. But then, she is still spread around. Cape Eleuthera is her official residence. For much business New York is headquarters. And, like Peter Pan, her shadow is yet elsewhere, being tailored in Beverly Hills, where her press agent, Patricia Kingsley, elegant and professional, offers to trade new lamps for old. "Pat Kingsley is the first touch of class Billie Jean's ever had around her," an old friend and associate says. "Previously, it was all a pickup game, everybody playing skins and shirts. Everything you'd accomplish with Billie Jean herself, they managed to unravel."

The public attitude toward Billie Jean may be softening, anyway, especially as she places more distance between herself and the Riggs imbroglio. It is Larry's theory, and a sound one, that although Billie Jean was nearly silent before that confrontation, many men concluded that she must somehow be the flip side of Bobby Riggs, that everything common and ridiculous he trumpeted about women, she believed about men. And then, of course, when she did beat Riggs, many men, and not a few women, traumatized, punished her.

The person is at last being distilled from that bizarre episode. Those who come to her matches now appear almost overwhelmingly to be in attendance for the purpose of paying homage to her — men and women alike. It is even sometimes rather condescending and embarrassing, as if the opponent were an interloper, intruding on the jovial intimacy of Billie Jean and the crowd. In many ways, her greater problem now involves not so much those who detest her, but those who expect too much of her.

Her dealings with organized femininity are most painfully ambivalent of all, for so many of its members assume a proprietary role with her and do not consider her own feelings — which are not necessarily straight party line, anyhow. Billie Jean slayed the Riggs dragon, didst she not? Billie Jean had an abortion and told the world. She's a member of The National Organization of Women. She's a wife on her own terms, a champion breadwinner. She started a modern woman's magazine. She signs petitions with Gloria Steinem and Margaret Mead. Yeah, sister!

"Women's lib can be so negative, so defensive, so narrow-minded," Billie Jean says in some exasperation. "They think their thing is the only thing in the world for everybody. I have to do things my own way. That's what I think equal opportunity is all about. But take the last town I played in, NOW calls me up and asks for 10 press tickets. Ten, and, of course, they're not even press. O.K., I said I'd arrange for one press credential, so two of them came and started making a fuss. Help us, they said. Look, I said, I'm just here as an entertainer. They always push me, they push. They don't know where to stop; they go over the brink. So often I have to tell them, as nicely as I can, 'Don't you see that what you're doing is abusing me? Don't you see that you're doing to me precisely what you say you don't want to be done to anyone?' "

But perhaps young girls are the most difficult for her to deal with. They besiege her and womenSports with letters, crying for advice and succor. And what can she tell them? How can she help? They write her, she says, "as if I have a magic wand." If only Billie Jean can come to their school, then they will get a basketball team, like the boys, or a track team, or more sports equipment, or uniforms, or attention, whatever. Just give us a day, Billie Jean, or an hour, and you can set it all right for us. We know you can. Please. She tries to reply, as kindly but firmly as she can, that she is not magic, and that they must try to do these things for themselves. "You know," she says, "I've never really cared what someone does. I just like people who try, people who are emotional, perfectionist. I just like to see people who are good at something work their bahoolas off."

Perhaps it is this in Billie Jean that speaks most to the young girls — and, ironically, it is an element that has nothing to do with sex. It is not their fault, but almost all famous women in this country have become celebrities simply because they are women — whether it be for their beauty, for whom they chanced to marry or that they speak for women. Appalling as it might sound, most especially for these particular principals, Cybill Shepherd, Pat Nixon and Betty Friedan are in the same bag in that it is their womanhood that accounts for their prominence. Those female celebrities who have made it on their own hook — a politician like Ella Grasso, say, or a novelist like Joyce Carol Oates — apparently seem too remote, too old, too intellectual to relate to the rank and file of younger women. What few peer models they have had previously have almost exclusively been male-selected, milk-bathed movie stars, so exquisite of face and figure as to serve more as objects of jealousy than of identification. But Billie Jean is something American girls have never experienced, a young woman who is accessible enough, imperfect in the right ways and accomplished. She appears to them not so much as an emerging woman but as an emerging person.

When SPORTS ILLUSTRATED researched a series of articles on women's sports three years ago, many of the young girls interviewed were hard put just to name a few female athletes. Several months ago, Seventeen polled its readers and found that Billie Jean King, who grew up, despite herself, to become a tennis bum, was the most admired woman in all the world. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents listed her first — think about that. Golda Meir finished second.

Ray Robinson, Seventeen's managing editor, says his staff was stunned. "This was a tremendous departure from past surveys," he says. "There is something going on out there with young girls. There are new heroines, but not the high lamas of feminism. It seems to be important to the girls that Billie Jean did it all on her own, just her and that damn tennis racket."

There was another sunset by the sea, this one in the peaceful beauty of Cape Eleuthera, where the palms stood in silhouette around the cove, sentinels against the twilight. "You know," Billie Jean said, digging in the sand with her toes, "I always had a great sense of destiny. Would you believe that? I remember once when I was five or six, I told my mother that I was going to be great. I remember, we were just standing there together in the kitchen. She smiled down at me and said something like oh, that's fine, dear, and then went right on with what she was doing." Billie Jean smiled at the recollection.

"Come on," she said then, tossing her hair against the first cool evening breeze, "I want to go back to my room and take a hot shower and then just jump into bed and get all toasty warm, from the footsies on up, between the sheets. I love that. You got to love it." And a yummy dinner would follow.

Great post and really sums up her place in the history of the 20th century.

iainmac
Jul 20th, 2009, 02:05 PM
[QUOTE=Zummi;3923628]A LOT of people don't like Billie Jean in this forum. You're not going to get a fair assesment of Billie Jean around here. But then she was always very much misunderstood and underappreciated. Some things never change...

I am not a fan of Billie Jean King the tennis player, never was never will be! But, I will say this: I RESPECT HER IMMENSELY! She did not put women's tennis on the map - SHE PUT TENNIS ON THE MAP! I don't always agree with what she did, (especially the "coming out" bit, but she did what she thought was right for her), and many will pick, or be bitter for how she did it, but it was her life. I would like to thasnk her though (I only wish it was personally) for introducing me to one of my facorite things in the world - the sport of tennis!

Thank you Billie Jean King!

I agree totally. People who achieve in life what BJK has are not often popular. In order to further their dreams they often stand on others toes and will upset conservatism. But BJK generally did what had to be done. It is sad if there are people who will not be objective in their analysis of her. But again she would love that anyway- debate and interest being areas that she thrived in promoting. And as for the way she came out I think she did it that way for fear of further hurting her parents and husband. And of course the WTA tour which was very vulnerabke to homophobia at that time. Navratilova for instance did not rush to admit her orientation at that point either.Wade and Turnbull for example have never really confronted it.

OohZuzana
Jul 31st, 2009, 07:19 AM
Billie Jean was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama!

http://www.thedailyforehand.com/2009/7/31/970289/billie-jean-king-awarded

iainmac
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:27 AM
Billie Jean was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama!

http://www.thedailyforehand.com/2009/7/31/970289/billie-jean-king-awarded

Thanks for taking the time to let the forum know this. BJK is the greatest single individual in the history of tennis-what a legend she is.:worship:

OohZuzana
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:29 AM
Thanks for taking the time to let the forum know this. BJK is the greatest single individual in the history of tennis-what a legend she is.:worship:

I agree! And I got to interview her, total dream come true. I'm gonna post the interview later today :).

iainmac
Jul 31st, 2009, 10:33 AM
I agree! And I got to interview her, total dream come true. I'm gonna post the interview later today :).

Did you really? That is amazing. I am sure that we all look forward to reading later. Cheers for that.:):):)

OohZuzana
Aug 4th, 2009, 05:56 AM
Here it is, as promised :) http://www.thedailyforehand.com/2009/8/3/976246/q-a-with-billie-jean-king

iainmac
Aug 4th, 2009, 11:02 AM
Here it is, as promised :) http://www.thedailyforehand.com/2009/8/3/976246/q-a-with-billie-jean-king

Well done Ben- that was great and a fine interesting article on such a great player.:worship:

newmark401
Aug 8th, 2009, 02:42 PM
Here is a description by the British journalist and future General Secretary of the ITF, David Gray, of Billie Jean's last ever singles win over Chris Evert, in the semi-finals of the 1975 Wimbledon, which Billie Jean had said would be her last attempt at a major singles title (it wasn't). Billie Jean went on to crush Evonne Cawley in that year's final.


In the train to Eastbourne two weeks ago Billie Jean King, who defeated Chris Evert, the champion, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach her ninth Wimbledon singles final yesterday, sat down and wrote herself a letter. One of the things she wrote was: ‘Even if you get twenty bad calls, and everything seems to go wrong, you still have to be willing to give, even if you have nothing more to give.’

She took the lesson to heart. She had never lost to Miss Evert on grass, and she approached the match with her usual assurance and determination. But she lost the first set, enduring all the ill luck on the line decisions (please, Captain Gibson, would you tell your linesmen once again to stop laughing after they have ruled against players in tight moments), won the second, and then trailed 0-3, 15-40 in the final set.

It was a major test of nerve and determination, but she came through it wonderfully to meet Evonne Cawley, who beat Margaret Court 6-4, 6-4, in the final. She has said that this will be her last attempt to capture a major singles title. No more Wimbleldons, even if she wins tomorrow. No defence of her title at Forest Hills. Elizabeth Ryan won nineteen Wimbledon titles, all in women’s doubles or mixed. If Mrs King wins again, she will equal that record. As we watched her, wearing down Miss Evert, destroying the superfine accuracy of the cold girl from Florida, we were conscious again that Mrs King is the most remarkable of all post-war champions. She is the match-player extraordinary. Connolly was greater. Bueno looked more stylish. Mrs Court was stronger. We cared more about Doris Hart. Angela Mortimer and Ann Jones belong to us – but no one has been quite like Mrs King. ‘I love Wimbledon. I could hug Wimbledon. I love the atmosphere. The Centre Court. Everything about it’, she said yesterday. How could Miss Evert, the fair Miss Frigidaire, prim and accurate, hope to counter a player who cared as much as that?

The match was as astonishing as its winner. In the first set Miss Evert seemed invulnerable. Only twice did she miss with her first service. Mrs King tried to play her from the baseline but abandoned that strategy after a long rally at 1-2 and 15-30. She lost her service for 1-3 and the set disappeared. Mrs King was trying to get to the net and she was being lobbed. But the picture changed at once in the second set. Miss Evert needed three second services and was broken in the first game, and although she came back to 2-2, Mrs King smashed with all her old accuracy. The crowd were cheering her too (‘I was very conscious that that they were aware that this is my last Wimbledon. They were really nice and I appreciate it. It meant a lot to me.’) She won four successive games for the set, snapping them up like an angry sharp-beaked bird. There is something decidedly ornithological about the eager, determined concentration with which she picks up her points.

The she fell behind again. There were three long games at the start of the third set and Miss Evert won all of them. Mrs King tried checking the pace, kept on attempting drop shots, and was passed frequently again. But Miss Evert was passive, always watching her and waiting for her to make a move. That fitted the pattern of her matches against Lindsey Beaven and Betty Stove (‘I was surprised by how little she did’, said Miss Beaven). Mrs King held her service for 1-3 from 15-40, saving an advantage point, and then broke for 2-3 after two long rallies and a remarkable spring from the baseline to pick up a drop shot. Who said that she couldn’t run anymore?

That was the heart of the match. Thereafter Miss Evert was defending and Mrs King was always the attacker. ‘When I was down 0-3 and 15-40 in the final set, I thought how embarrassed I shall be if I lost it 6-0. I said to myself I must try and take each point to get back into the match. Then I thought: “This is my last Wimbledon and I just can’t lose this match now. I just want to do the whole trip.”’ She broke for 4-3 after another of those fierce sprints and the rest was comparatively painless. Miss Evert looked as though she simply had not understood anything that happened in the last six games. At the end she said that she had thought herself safe in the fourth game of the third set. ‘I had a good chance, but then I guess I rushed it a little bit. Billie Jean is really a gutsy player and as the set went on I kept thinking about the 3-0 lead which had gone instead of getting on with the match as I should have done. Billie Jean is best when she is down. She always goes for broke. I just hope she plays Forest Hills. This is Billie Jean’s last Wimbledon, and it means a lot to her. She is like Ken Rosewall in the men.’

daze11
Dec 1st, 2010, 10:16 PM
Lengthy sometimes-interesting interview with BJK:

http://www.insidetennis.com/2010/11/billie-jean-king-interview/

INSIDE TENNIS: There’s a story that a woman in Manhattan tells a taxi driver, “I have to go out to Queens and meet Billie Jean King. When the taxi driver asks how to get there, she says, “Well, there’s a big brick building that has her name on it.” Is that true?

BILLIE JEAN KING: It was one of the sponsors coming out to the suite.

IT: What is it like to have your name up on the tennis center, to have such fame? What is that lifestyle like?

BJK: It’s a sense of responsibility. It’s our job to go for it.

IT: Let’s look at some numbers: You sign up for $1 with Gladys Heldman, 30,472 show up at the Astrodome, Venus Williams wins $1.4 million in equal prize money at Wimbledon, Maria Sharapova signs a $70 million deal with Nike…

BJK: Seventy million what?

IT: Her contract with Nike.

BJK: Seven zero?

IT: Seven zero.

BJK: Great. Love it. Look at what basketball and baseball players make. I’m thrilled.

IT: Holly Hunter says because of you she and others actresses make up to $25 million per film.

BJK: It’s not because of me. Psychologically, it didn’t hurt.

IT: Which of those numbers sticks out most for you?

BJK: I’m thrilled about the money, but I don’t think about the money. I do think about the money if there’s a message — like with equal prize money. I kept telling Venus, it’s about the message. The message is important because 60 percent of girls in this world are not getting educated. You’ve got all this poverty. Any time a woman is in poverty, it means her boys and her girls are in poverty. So microfinancing is important. It sends a message of equality, and I want equality for everybody. For instance, we don’t have enough men going to college now. That’s a challenge here. But overall, the challenge is still girls and women because we’re so underserved. That’s what [Bill] Clinton’s Global Initiative emphasized again this year.

IT: Speaking of things global, what do you think of the WTA Championships going to Doha?

BJK: I think it’s great. Anytime we go to a new place, it’s good for them to see these women producing and making this kind of money. I went to Doha and wanted to do a clinic for the boys and girls. They only allowed the girls to do it. You cannot believe how excited they were. They had some really good little players who could hit. I spoke to one of the mothers. Her daughter is lefthanded, which is sinister. She has lefthanded kids. She said, “I want my daughter to be a champion so it would help the stigma. [In Qater, the left hand is seen as the "dirty hand."] The Sheikha [Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani] didn’t wear a veil — her face showed. She came out on court and presented the check [to Serena Williams]. That was huge. Unless you go there, you don’t know what’s going on.

IT: Frank DeFord once wrote that you and Jackie Robinson were the two most definitive athletes of the 20th century, but that Robinson needed someone to open the door for him; you had to break the door down on your own. Do you take pride in the path you’ve forged?

BJK: Absolutely. It started when I was 11 or 12. That’s when I decided I wanted to be No. 1. Those are very impressionable moments. They’ve done research on that. That’s when kids usually decide their dreams.

IT: When you were first breaking away with the women’s tour, someone said, “No one’s going to come out and watch those birds…”

BJK: I had a few of those guys, which was very hurtful, because they were my friends. If I didn’t feel close to them, I probably wouldn’t have been quite so taken aback. I thought that was pretty low. But I try not to take things personally. That really helps. That’s the only reason my name’s on the USTA National Tennis Center — I never took it personally. I really like these [USTA] people. I didn’t have to agree with them. Every two years, we have a new president, so we start over. My friends say, “Why are you so nice to them?” I say, “It’s not about them. It’s about what kind of character I have.”

IT: You started battling them as a player.

BJK: We all did. It wasn’t just me. I was definitely more forthright.

IT: But part of the USTA culture is “You know your place.”

BJK: But you try to change things diplomatically. The reason we got equal prize money in ‘73 was Billy Talbert. I only had a quiet, one-on-one discussion. People think we were really boisterous. That’s not true. Ninety-five percent of it is behind the scenes. We were boisterous only when we didn’t have any other course to take. You have to be calm when you make decisions. You can’t make them when you’re too low or too high. Always try to get in the middle before you make an important decision. That wasn’t what the media or the public’s perception was. A lot of the great things we did were done in quiet settings. Even the $1 contract — that was at the little Houston Racquet Club. We were having these discussions day and night at Gladys’ home, which was just around the block from the club. I called the president of the USTA before that happened. One minute before we held up those $1 bills, I called the USTA president and said, “Are you sure you won’t do a tour? We don’t need to do this if you’ll do a tour.” I had been trying for two or three years to talk sweetly to them. They kept saying, “No.” Then they said, “You’re going to be ostracized. You won’t ever be able to play again in any of our tournaments.” I said, “You’ve left us no choice. But I want you to know that when you read about it tomorrow, I talked to you first. I don’t want to go behind your back.” That was a quiet time. That was on a pay phone at the Houston Racquet Club, not in front of 100 media people in a room with microphones up my nose.

IT: At the Battle of the Sexes, you really had the weight of history on your shoulders. Some said it was more pressure than a Wimbledon final.

BJK: For sure. It was a one-time thing. It transcended that match so much. So many things were involved. The emotions that men and women were feeling were just incredible — about themselves, about the opposite gender, about their children – it was at the right time in history. It was at the height of the women’s movement, we were just coming off Vietnam, Watergate was starting to heat up — it was a very tumultuous time. I guess God put me on Earth at the right time to be able to do that. Arthur [Ashe] and I were born the same year — in ‘43. We asked ourselves, “Why?” It’s our destiny. It was meant to be. As a young person, I knew there was something special that was going to happen to me. I was seven years old when I told my mother I was going to do something great with my life. We didn’t have a dishwasher then. She said, “Dry the dishes and let’s go — you’ve got homework to do.” My mother always kept going. Little did they know. When my brother Randy and I started our dreams — me with tennis, Randy with baseball — they had three jobs. That was just to get us to a tournament. We didn’t have a lot of extra money. Those are the kinds of kids we need in tennis — blue-collar kids. The rich kids can go everywhere and get the points.

IT: You’ve said that Americans don’t realize how good they have it.

BJK: I don’t always agree with that. It’s your environment. If you grow up in my or my brother’s environment, you can make it. I think Americans have a great history of resolve. We have a history of adventure, conquering the frontiers. That’s always going to be in our DNA. We have to tap into the best athletes. I’ve listened to parents — especially of color — and they all say the same thing: “Go to the elementary schools and ask the football coach to give you the best two athletes at school and tell him you’re going to give this kid a life and an education.” People tell me this over and over. I’m going to listen to them because they come from a different place. I’m white. They’re worried about the children. They’re in the right place. You have to find the right schools. Where do they have really good athletes? Where do they have great basketball players? The inner-city. We don’t need a ton of them; we just need the best. Low-income kids and first-generation Americans. There’s something special about the way they’re brought up. It’s old school-new school. There’s something special about that — Agassi, Capriati, Sampras. I’m telling you, there’s something there. Don’t ignore it. It doesn’t mean a fifth-generation American can’t be great. But they’ve either got to come from a strict family — a family that was loving and strict, like my family. Chris Evert and I had the same thing. We had the best setup. Blue-collar family. She’s Catholic and I’m Protestant, but we might as well come from the same cloth as far as the way we were brought up.

IT: Can kids from the ‘burbs with BMWs and Xboxs and iPods make it?

BJK: Yes, they can. But you’ve got to get the kid who’s got the resolve. Like Ryan Harrison — he’s highly motivated. I want that kid.

IT: What about Sam Querrey and John Isner?

BJK: They’re great kids, but do you really expect them to beat everyone? I don’t. What I love about those two is that they’re getting the best out of what they’ve got, and that’s all you can ask.

IT: Can Ryan Harrison make it to the top?

BJK: I don’t know yet, but I’m very impressed with him. He’s got intensity, he loves it, and he’s got a well-rounded game. You’ve got to have a weapon eventually. I don’t know how quick he’s going to be. But I love what I saw. Prescott, Arizona’s got a little kid. Her dad came to me in the gym. He said, “I hate to bother you, but her name is Taylor Johnson, she’s 10-and-under. She will go out in the snow with layers on to play.” I said, “Can you come at three o’clock?” When I go back to Prescott, I’m going to go check her out. She sounds like a highly motivated kid.

IT: Where do you come down on the greatest of all time in women’s tennis?

BJK: Serena should be, but she’s not finished.

IT: Martina? Steffi?

BJK: Martina — singles, doubles and mixed. And Steffi in singles. That’s all I could ever say. The greatest all-around athlete is probably Martina. But we can’t compare our games. We couldn’t hold a candle to these kids today. (:confused::rolleyes::o:help::tape:)

IT: You’ve met so many wonderful people. Who’s the most impressive?

BJK: Everyone’s got different plusses. Obama is a great listener. And kind. And he’s smart.

IT: You’re close with Hilary.

BJK: I’m not that close. She did ask me to help her [with her presidential campaign]. I did not have any relationships with Obama, although I lived in Chicago for 12 years. I can’t believe I didn’t meet him, because I helped the mayor with things. As soon as we met, it was like, BOOM.

IT: In many states, gay marriage is such a serious question. Your thoughts?

BJK: Civil unions are what I wanted everyone to vote on because you have to go in phases sometimes. It can go too far to the right or the left. Things don’t happen if people get too angry, too off-balance. If I could have done the game plan 20 years ago, I would have said, “Let’s get civil unions right because I want the law to protect us first. That’s the most important thing. We still have over 1,000 federal laws. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders who can get fired with no recourse. It’s getting better though. It’s definitely going in the right direction. People are always uncomfortable when there’s a fear or an unknown. There’s always going to be a certain percentage of people just totally uncomfortable. Usually the people who yell the loudest have latent tendencies themselves and are scared, so they just go overboard. They protest too much. When I hear that hate, that’s when I go, “uh-oh.”

IT: You’re a close friend of John McEnroe’s. He loves tennis. Incredible talent, great mind, brilliant commentator, but at 51 he still has a dark side – losing it, chewing out Mashona Washington at a Word TeamTennis match…

BJK: I love John. He’s just got demons. But you have to understand his generation. It was pretty much whatever they wanted. They didn’t have to think too much beyond that. I like it when a player has skin in the game, and most do not. I’m talking about putting money back in the sport. There’s very few of us who’ve actually put our money back in the game. I’ve owned four tournaments. I own part of Indian Wells. I had to put up money for that. Sampras, Chris did too. But they were established. I’ve always put money in the game, but I’ve also made my living out of it, which has been fantastic. Butch Buchholz put money in. Newcombe and some of the other Aussies have put money in. But how many Americans do we have putting money back in the game? How much money do we take out of our prize money every year? What’s Federer up to – $57 million? That’s just the official amount. I like to see players give back to tennis, not other foundations outside of tennis. They think about their brand, their own thing. Then they do a foundation someplace else. I do the Women’s Sports Foundation, but at least it’s in sports. But I also do the Elton John AIDS Foundation. World TeamTennis has raised almost $10 million for them. Since ‘68 I’ve been a small businesswoman in the sport of tennis.

IT: If you could watch just one player?

BJK: Nadal and Fededer are a cut above right now. They were both in soccer. I’m just so thrilled they chose tennis. They could have chosen soccer. We never would have seen them. We need to get soccer kids because they have good footwork and hand-eye coordination. If we don’t sign up kids on a team when they’re young, we’re never going to have our sport where we want it. And we need to have a format in college where we have 24,000 screaming kids and get it on TV like they do for March Madness. I can see it so clearly.

IT: Bud Collins said you were a prophet in the wilderness. Is that true?

BJK: Sometimes. I don’t always want to change things. You’ll never meet someone who loves tradition more than I do. But that’s why we change history — because we appreciate history, we appreciate tradition, we appreciate people’s ideas. It’s one thing to have an idea; it’s another to execute.

IT: Do you think Bobby Riggs would be happy about the way things are unfolding?

BJK: Bobby Riggs would still be contributing. Are you kidding? He was always contributing fun and liveliness and attention to our sport. How can you not love that? He was a character, but he was also a former No. 1. When I explain to people why I won that match it was because I respected him so much. But we’re in a tiny universe, a tiny little universe. Everyone thinks everybody knows us. No one knows who we are.

IT: But you’ve touched so many people.

BJK: I’m not finished. I still feel rarin’ to go.

IT: And your proudest accomplishment?

BJK: What I’ve done off the court because we keep passing the baton as we go down through life. After I’m gone, these things will have a life of their own. Each generation will build on them. That’s what makes me happy — equal rights and opportunity. There have been milestones and milestones. We went from amateurs to professionals. That was huge. I’m proud that it was my generation that did it. We are the transitional generation. Every day I wake up and say, “We did it.”

austinrunner
Jul 11th, 2011, 06:31 AM
Speaking of the 1968 US Open, King said on page 120 of her 1982 book Billie Jean with Frank Deford:I got to the finals but my knee was absolutely killing me. The night I beat [Maria] Bueno in the semis in three sets, I had to rest it up over a guitar case I put on the bed, but I still was in such pain I could barely sleep. I was up almost all night crying, and the next day, I couldn't move. Virginia [Wade] jumped all over my serve, and she beat me in straight sets.

austinrunner
Jul 11th, 2011, 07:06 AM
King said on page 142 of her 1982 book Billie Jean with Frank Deford:
But if I had to choose my favorite opponent, it wouldn't be either Margaret [Smith Court] or Chris [Evert]. It would be Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

I always played my best against Evonne because she always raised her game against me and because she used such spin and variety that it forced me to be more imaginative. It's true that Evonne would sometimes lack concentration and try crazy shots, but I always thought that that part of her was exaggerated by the press because they liked Evonne so much and sought to make excuses for her.

I mean, Evonne was perfect for the press. She was pretty and exciting to watch and unpredictable, and she won enough without winning all the time. Curiously, though, she was never as popular with the fans as she was with journalists. In this respect, Evonne always sort of brought Arthur Ashe to my mind. Like her, he was an exciting player, but a placid soul; but he was always a better draw than Evonne was, probably because he was American and was so well defined a personality. The fans never seemed to get a handle on what Evonne was really like, so she only made a good gate attraction as an opponent. And she always put up a good match - against me, anyway. She could be very competitive when she put her mind to it, and I think she enjoyed our matches as much as I did.

The time I beat Evonne love and one in the Wimbledon finals (of '75) she really played quite well. She never once lost her concentration that I could tell. But of course, afterword the press all wrote the same junk about her having one of her walkabouts. The fact is that Evonne had three very real chances to sneak back into the match, and in each case she was psychologically all there, but I just blew her away each time with my pace.

In 1971 she beat me in the semis at Wimbledon - three and four; she just passed me at will, it seemed - and then went on to take the title when she was only nineteen. So that was a very special moment for her. And two of the very best matches I ever played were against Evonne. In 1973, in another semifinal at Wimbledon, I needed eight match points before I finally beat her. We both simply played magnificently that day. Nothing daunted us. ... [T]he other terrific match I played against Evonne was at Forest Hills in 1974.... In this one, I beat her 7-5 in the final set, and after I was down in the first set, too. Maybe I am proudest of all of this one, because I almost didn't even enter the tournament that year. I had devoted myself so completely to World Team Tennis, and I was absolutely exhausted. Olga Morozova beat me at Wimbledon earlier in the summer. But at the last minute I just said, "To heck with it, let's give Forest Hills a shot," and my guardian angels got me through. I can hardly recall a single shot in the final against Evonne. I was that tired. I know I adjusted in some way after she took the first set from me at three, but I haven't got a clue to what it was that I did.

Evonne liked the idea of being number one every now and then, but she certainly didn't have a fetish about it. It was just a sometime thing, like going on a diet or something.

Rollo
Apr 27th, 2012, 06:51 PM
King going for it vs Wade at the 1966 Wightman Cup. Kinh won, and soon aftr captured her first Wimbledon.

http://denverpost.slideshowpro.com/albums/001/496/album-240604/cache/Wimbleton_034.sjpg_950_2000_0_75_0_50_50.sjpg?1309 143758

Rollo
Apr 27th, 2012, 06:58 PM
An utterly determined looking Billie Jean vs Chris Evert in the 1975 Wimbledon semifinal. It was to be her last victory over Evert and her last Grand Slam title.

http://denverpost.slideshowpro.com/albums/001/496/album-240604/cache/Wimbleton_057.sjpg_950_2000_0_75_0_50_50.sjpg?1309 143758

Rollo
Apr 27th, 2012, 07:00 PM
Winning a record 20th Wimbledon title with Navratilova, who ironically enough would go on to top it.

http://denverpost.slideshowpro.com/albums/001/496/album-240604/cache/Wimbleton_067.sjpg_950_2000_0_75_0_50_50.sjpg?1309 143758

alfajeffster
Apr 27th, 2012, 09:03 PM
My apology for grainy texture, but I finally got something from photobucket to post! Most of my photos there are done on a copy machine, so nothing crisp. A rare photo of the 1968 USO finalists. Wish I could actually see the match.
http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a223/alfajeffster/WadeKing68USO.jpg

mistymore
Apr 30th, 2012, 03:10 AM
King was such a vicious competitor. A true champion. She probably could have won even more too if she didnt devote so much time to starting the womens tour. She was truly selfless in all she did, yet determined and hungry too.

Uranium
Dec 24th, 2012, 04:07 AM
1966 Wimbledon
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-HU006075.jpg?size=67&uid=bd6477a6-63f2-4934-bc48-221a6822068c
1967 Wimbledon
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-U1588053.jpg?size=67&uid=cad05113-a3de-4116-aad8-0e384626b81a
1967 US Open
http://img543.imageshack.us/img543/360/bjk1967uschampionshipsw.jpg
1968 Australian Open
http://i1173.photobucket.com/albums/r585/VeeReeLena/bjkAOtrophy.jpg
1968 Wimbledon
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-JE002230.jpg?size=67&uid=b605784d-2e72-4e89-a201-8cd494a38a4b
1971 US Open

1972 Roland Garros
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-U1741054-9.jpg?size=67&uid=4e6a6107-f32a-4f46-812b-969a7d648073
1972 Wimbledon
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-U1744127.jpg?size=67&uid=8350ff7a-2eec-47b9-9c28-d7ee6bae69c0
1972 US Open

1973 Wimbledon
http://www.woa.tv/images/athletics/at_kingbj/at_kingbj_01_501x600.jpg
1974 US Open
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-42-20876396.jpg?size=67&uid=06b469a1-be92-4181-b432-8eccc057c1dd
1975 Wimbledon
http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-U1842371-13.jpg?size=67&uid=085048b9-3af3-4268-9636-613e23dd78c3

71 and 72 USO missing. Struggled to find those.

Barrie_Dude
Mar 25th, 2013, 09:04 AM
Been awhile since I have been here. I appreciate everyone's efforts and the pics are great Thank you


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Rollo
Jun 14th, 2013, 01:18 PM
Here is a WTA piece on King at Birmingham

http://www.wtatennis.com/news/article/3209255/title/40-love-moments-queen-of-the-ages#sthash.GxzjgY4k.dpuf

40 LOVE Moments: Queen Of The Ages

Billie Jean King and Birmingham have a very special connection. In 1982, King won the inaugural edition of the tournament, but her 1983 victory there was even more historic - for two reasons.
Published June 13, 2013 12:00
http://www.wtatennis.com/javaImages/6/38/0,,12781%7E12007430,00.jpg Billie Jean King

BIRMINGHAM, England - Birmingham has a special place in Billie Jean King (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/4011/title/billie-jean-king)'s heart, and Billie Jean King (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/4011/title/billie-jean-king) has a special place in Birmingham's heart. So it's the perfect time to take a look back and see how the WTA legend's presence still runs strong at one of the longest-running tournaments on the WTA.
The Aegon Classic (http://www.wtatennis.com/tournaments/tournamentId/438/title/aegon-classic) is hosted less than a mile from the Birmingham city center at the Edgbaston Priory Club, a 12-acre private members facility that includes 29 tennis courts and 10 squash courts. It is one of the country's largest and most popular racquet and leisure clubs. On top of that, the origins of the modern game of lawn tennis are believed to have started in Edgbaston as early as 1859.
The tournament was first held in 1982, and it was none other than King who was its first champion. Seeded No.4 behind Tracy Austin (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/59/title/tracy-austin), Sylvia Hanika (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/3207/title/sylvia-hanika) and Barbara Potter, thanks to a string of early upsets King didn't even have to play any of them all week and battled her way to the title, getting pushed to three sets by Lele Forood in her opening match and Betsy Nagelsen (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/5740/title/betsy-nagelsen) in the semifinals but putting on a dazzling display of grass court tennis in the final, crushing Rosalyn Fairbank in straights, 62 61.
King's victory at the Aegon Classic (http://www.wtatennis.com/tournaments/tournamentId/438/title/aegon-classic) a year later in 1983 may have been even more meaningful, though. It wasn't as difficult - she was the top seed and didn't lose a set all week, including taking Alycia Moulton down in the final, 60 75 - but it was also the last of her 67 WTA titles in the Open Era.
That triumph also gave King a very, very impressive honor - at 39 years, 7 months and 23 days, King was the oldest player ever to win a WTA title, a record that actually still stands to this day.
In 2010 the record came under threat, big time, as a 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/1860/title/kimiko-date-krumm) reached the final of Osaka and went to a third set with Tamarine Tanasugarn (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/8240/title/tamarine-tanasugarn) - but the Thai eventually won that in three. Date-Krumm is still the second-oldest player to win a WTA title though, triumphing at Seoul in 2009 at 38 years, 11 months and 30 days. And the Japanese is still going strong at age 42 - can she do it?
King would play her last Grand Slam just a few weeks later at Wimbledon (http://www.wtatennis.com/tournaments/tournamentId/839/title/wimbledon), making it all the way to the semifinals before falling to Andrea Jaeger (http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/3780/title/andrea-jaeger). She would retire from singles competition by the end of 1983 - she played doubles for years before completely retiring from professional competition in 1990.

http://www.wtatennis.com/javaImages/7/38/0,,12781%7E12007431,00.jpg

Barrie_Dude
Jun 14th, 2013, 09:04 PM
Thank you for sharing that


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Andy T
Jun 17th, 2013, 10:34 AM
"King would play her last Grand Slam just a few weeks later at Wimbledon (http://www.wtatennis.com/tournaments/tournamentId/839/title/wimbledon),"

Not true - she played the Australian Open at the end of that year, losing a close three-setter to Tanvier.

Barrie_Dude
Jun 17th, 2013, 11:37 AM
I miss having her active competively but she continues to influence the game


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