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Billie Jean King-Time Interview

Time August 23/August 30, 2021 pp112|6 Questions| “Billie Jean King The tennis legend on athletes’ struggles with mental health, the fight for equal pay and her new memoir, All In

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Read Time interview for all the details. Interview by Cady Lang

Summary offered by 2244

Q “In your book, you write, ‘Even if you’re not a born activist, life can damn sure make you one’, How did you come to this conclusion?”

Remarking that when she started playing organized tennis at age 12

A “...Where’s everybody else?” I just knew if I ever could become No. 1, I would champion equality the rest of my life. But I knew I had to probably be No. 1 because I new already at 12 years old that I was a second-class citizen and I’m white.”

Q “Your wrote about how Black tennis star Althea Gibson help shape the way you saw your future. Your path has provided a way for many young people to see themselves. What do you think the importances of visibility is?”

A “I think you have a chance to make a bigger impact, because you’re reaching more people...when you start to hear stories of people as human beings, not that they had a good forehand or backhand that’s what’s interesting to people.”

Q “As a pioneer in women’s professional sports, you often received backlash for speaking out. What do you think of athletes using their platforms to promote social change?”

A “It’s always good to hear people and their opinions…there’s a responsibility. If you look at the history of how pro tennis started in ‘68 and how women were getting shut out, we signed this $1 contract that is the birth of women’s professional tennis...We were all very young at the time and we decided that we were willing to give up our careers, we were willing to give up everything for the future generations.”

Other quotes from answers

Regarding Naomi Osaka…”I know it’s difficult, but I think we need to do a better job of having a rookie school…[beyond being a professional athlete] you’re going to have to talk to somebody sometime.”

On mental health. “I think one of the challenges for people in general is that we have trouble asking for help when we need it the most.”

On pay equity. “Frustrated...Let me ask you, do women writers make as much as male writers?...”Girls are taught not to [ask for a raise]...we have to go for it.”


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