NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • An inspiring and intimate self-portrait of the champion of equality that encompasses her brilliant tennis career, unwavering activism, and an ongoing commitment to fairness and social justice.
“A story about the personal strength, immense growth, and undeniable greatness of one woman who fearlessly stood up to a culture trying to break her down.”—Serena Williams
In this spirited account, Billie Jean King details her life's journey to find her true self. She recounts her groundbreaking tennis career—six years as the top-ranked woman in the world, twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine grand-slam titles, and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous "Battle of the Sexes." She poignantly recalls the cultural backdrop of those years and the profound impact on her worldview from the women's movement, the assassinations and anti-war protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, eventually, the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
She describes the myriad challenges she's hurdled—entrenched sexism, an eating disorder, near financial peril after being outed—on her path to publicly and unequivocally acknowledging her sexual identity at the age of fifty-one. She talks about how her life today remains one of indefatigable service. She offers insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality, and love. And she shows how living honestly and openly has had a transformative effect on her relationships and happiness.
Hers is the story of a pathbreaking feminist, a world-class athlete, and an indomitable spirit whose impact has transcended even her spectacular achievements in sports.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Hit center court with tennis legend and feminist icon Billie Jean King in her candid, heartfelt autobiography. From her epic win over Bobby Riggs in 1973’s “Battle of the Sexes” to her tireless fight for human rights, King’s incredible career has continued for decades, and her impact on athletics has been immense. Here, she serves up an unvarnished account of her hardscrabble upbringing in California, including her struggles with an eating disorder and her sexuality, as well as with the societal expectations placed on girls and women. And if you’re looking for tennis, that’s here too, including her young obsession with the game, her most influential mentors, and many of her most legendary matches. But as amazing as King’s career has been, we were even more impressed with her tireless pursuit of social justice. This inspiring read is a definite win.
The tennis legend faces off against on-court rivalries and off-court battles for equality in her audacious memoir. King (Pressure Is a Privilege) looks back on her years as a tennis superstar and winner of multiple Grand Slam titles in the 1960s and 1970s; her exploits leading the movement to professionalize women's tennis with the Virginia Slims tour and win equality with men in tournament prize money; her celebrated 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" match, in which she beat chauvinist figure Bobby Rigg; and her traumatic outing after a former female lover filed a palimony lawsuit, which cost King endorsement contracts. Vivid throughout is King's passion for the game "I loved the drama of it... the universe of possibilities that opened up as I drew my racket back, then that split-second pause where everything hangs in the balance as you're preparing to hit a return" and her obsessive will to win. She also fervidly speaks on contemporary issues from trans rights calling out the Women's Tennis Association for its insensitive treatment of such players as Ren e Richards to gun control ("gun violence has become a human rights crisis"). The result is a lively and inspiring portrait of pressure-cooker play and political upheaval in tennis, from one of its most fascinating figures.
I Learned So Much
This was an excellent book that taught me so much about the history of women’s tennis which I knew nothing about. It made me realize that we are all valuable human beings and that we should be treated equally. I also enjoyed each picture towards the end which added to my understanding of many parts of book. I’m just sorry I never had the opportunity to meet Billie Jean King. I highly recommend the book!
Just that… inspiring.
An Ace of a book!
This is a great read! Thank you, BJK for all you’ve done and continue to do.