WS 200 - Joelle Ruby Ryan
Billy Jean Moffitt King was born on November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California. She had a brother, Randy, that grew up to be a major league baseball pitcher. She married Lawrence King in 1965. Six years later, her affair with her secretary leaked to the press, and she admitted her gay relationship. It was this confusion of sexual preference that was her toughest struggle throughout her life. King is most notably known for her career as a famous United States tennis player. In fact, she is considered one of the best female tennis players as well as athletes. She got her start playing on public courts in Long Beach. She gained international fame when, at the mere age of 17, she won the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon. King ended up winning a total of six singles championships there.
Along with her fight to win championships in tennis, King also fought to create equality between men and women. She worked diligently to make prize moneys equal between men and women. She actually threatened not to play unless the prizes became even between the sexes, and in the following year, the US Open provided just that.
What King is most famous for, however is her defeat of Bobby Riggs, a man that once said, “the women's game was so inferior to the men's game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players” (Wikipedia). Riggs challenged King several times, but it wasn’t until he defeated fellow female tennis player Margaret Court that King decided to accept the challenge. The game was really close, but King came out on top. Of her reasoning for not originally accepting the challenge, she said, “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn't win that match. It would ruin the women's [tennis] tour and affect all women's self-esteem” (Wikipedia). Thankfully, though, she defeated Riggs, creating a major step forward for feminists everywhere.
I had heard of her name before, and knew that she was a tennis player, but I was unaware of her struggles as a woman in tennis and how she overcame them. I think it is amazing that she stood up against an arrogant man with the risk of losing some of the progress feminists had made at that time. It is clear that she was both an amazing athlete as well as person. It is very inspiring that she took a stand on what she believed in and made it clear to the world that women can perform just as well, if not better, than men.
RESOURCES to look up:
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billie_Jean_King
Schwartz, Larry. Billy Jean won for all women. ESPN.com article found at: http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016060.html
Made for TV Movie When Billie Beat Bobby Film Review from IMDb: http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016060.html
Biography from Women’s Tennis Association: http://www.sonyericssonwtatour.com/2/players/playerprofiles/Playerbio.asp?PlayerID=110100