Tennis icon Billie Jean King looks back on legacy on and off the court

Monday marked Billie Jean King's 78th birthday. Yet, the athlete who won 39 Grand Slams during her historic tennis career, is still moving at a dizzying pace. 

I interviewed her recently during the 2021 Dodgers postseason, where she displayed not a hint of slowing down. She burst through the door, almost in mid-sentence, speaking rapidly; a woman on the move, with someplace to be. 

She even tossed out a few questions to me as we tweaked the lights and double-checked microphones.

FOX 11 was there to talk to Billie Jean King about her new book, All In. The book chronicles the highs and lows of this storied life. Our time was limited because Billie Jean and her wife Ilana Kloss were rushing to Dodger Stadium to see the Boys in Blue take on the Atlanta Braves. 

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King and Kloss are minority owners in the club and avid fans. We both talked fast.

There’s an intensity about Ms. King when you meet her in person, and yet she’s disarming. A girl who grew up in Long Beach and wanted to change the world found a powerful voice in a tennis ball and a tennis racquet. 

She told me she figured out early that if she was number one, she would have a platform and people would listen to her. 

She pointed out, "Back then, no one listened to girls." 

As dazzling as King was on the court, No. 1 in the world, her off-court achievements were just as extraordinary. Through King’s courage and conviction, she led the fight for female athletes to be paid on par with their male counterparts. 

King and eight other female tennis players dubbed the "Original 9" risked their own careers so that women could have a seat at the table. Today’s female tennis stars are living the dream she and eight of her fellow tennis players envisioned back in 1970.

I hope you will join me in wishing Billie Jean a very happy birthday! I loved this quote " When a woman leads— she leads for everyone." 

Billie Jean King, an icon who is now 78 years young. 

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