Billie Jean King, tennis queen

A new documentary chronicles the tennis player's fight for equal rights.

Topics: Tennis, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

There have been a couple of anticipatory pieces this weekend about an upcoming HBO documentary, “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer,” set to air this Wednesday. The hourlong program will chronicle the life and career of King, 62, who fought for equal pay and opportunity for female athletes in the 1970s.

Colleagues and former adversaries like Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert are interviewed in the documentary, and Evert is quoted as saying, “She really did mentor myself and later on Martina to become the leaders … That was such a period when women’s sports and women’s tennis was being defined. It had gone up so many notches because of her in terms of credibility, publicity and exposure.”



In 1973, King famously played played male tennis star Bobby Riggs in front of 30,000 people in the Astrodome and 90 million on worldwide television, beating Riggs in straight sets. She says that she is still approached by men about that match. She calls them “the first generation of men in the women’s movement,” and reports that when they talk to her about it, “they have tears in their eyes, they’re in their late 40s and 50s. ‘I was really young when I watched your match, I have a daughter now. I cannot tell you how that changed my life and how I raise my daughter.’”

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>