BILLIE JEAN KING

download-1.jpg

Today's fierce female is Billie Jean King.

Taking up tennis at the age of 11 because it was consider a ladylike sport, she made her first Grand Slam appearance at 15. She lost in the first round.

She went on to have one of the most successful careers in the history of tennis, winning a record 20 Wimbledon titles, all four Grand Slam events in 1972, and 129 singles titles. She was the first woman and first tennis player to be named Sports Illustrated's Sports"man" of the Year.

In 1973, a retired professional tennis player named Bobby Riggs claimed that women were so inferior, he could beat any female athlete, even at 55 years old. When Billie Jean declined, he played Margaret Court, who he beat soundly.

Billie Jean finally agreed to play him, in the Battle of the Sexes, held in Houston's Astrodome. She entered adorned as Cleopatra, being carried by four shirtless men. She presented Bobby with a gift: a pig. The match was watched by over 90 million people worldwide. Billie Jean won; Bobby was inconsolable.

She continued to play tennis for another decade. She then devoted her life to fighting for women's equality and gay rights.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009. Though she was unable to attend, he also selected her as one of two openly-gay delegates to the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, in protest of Russian persecution of gay people.

"Be bold. If you're going to make an error, make a doozy."

"Champions keep playing until they get it right."

"I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion."

"When they take surveys of women in business, of the Fortune 500, the successful women, 80% of them, say they were in sports as a young woman."

"It is very hard to be a female leader. While it is assumed that any man, no matter how tough, has a soft side... a female leader is assumed to be one-dimensional."

"I have a lot to say, and if I'm not Number One, I can't say it."

"No one changes the world who isn't obsessed."

HAGS PodcastComment