Previous Next 

Dec 20 2017
Billie Jean King Reflects On BATTLE OF THE SEXES And Looks To The Future Comments (0)

IMG_1653_new(Images by Matthew Rettenmund)

Had a blast at my second screening of Battle of the Sexes, a feel-good movie about the celebrated tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The great Billie Jean King herself was there, and happily answered many questions from moderator Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD as well as from the audience ...

My Review of Battle of the Sexes HERE

King certainly has the gift of gab! I can see why she is a highly paid speaker, considering her ability to speak at length on any topic in an earthy and fair-minded way, often stopping to ask the crowd what we thought.

IMG_1654_newGirl culture

She detailed how she was drawn into the making of the movie, praised the filmmakers for deciding to seek her approval and took her first question from the audience ... from me!

IMG_1653_newGrand-slam entrance

I asked her to talk about her friendship with the colorful, trash-talking, male-chauvinist Riggs (who died of prostate cancer at 77 in 1995) and she said:

I was always friendly with Bobby. You have to understand the reason I beat him — I love history, and he was one of my heroes. And that's why I beat him: I knew all about him, he knew nothing about me. But, you know, dominant groups know very little about subdominant groups and subdominant groups know a lot about dominant groups. Think about it. Who's in power, whoever's in power, does not notice other people very much. They just, they're into themselves. Non-dominant groups have to know how to navigate what this culture's created for us.

I found that a very astute observation.

IMG_1658_newWith GLAAD's Sarah Kate Ellis

That insight along with her obvious decency, her constant stressing of parity, made her an awe-inspiring figure to be around. Not that she's perfect, but she's more evolved than most.

She also spoke about the need for more out athletes in pro sports, and also for more vocal allies.

IMG_1662With myself, and with my friends Angel & Gerard

She expressed elation at how much things have changed, though:

Now it's just so much better, when a woman or a male comes out and they're gay in sports? Everyboy celebrates it, presidents call them. Look at Jason Collins. He comes out — he's an NBA player — President Obama calls him, Hey, dude, way to go ... I remember losing all my endorsements overnight. It took 20 years to get back. It's just so much better today. I'm so happy. But that's what we were fighting for.

Someone asked her about anti-gay Margaret Court, the tennis great who has slammed all aspects of being gay from her native Australia:

We always get along, but we talk in a very superficial way ... We're all arguing, but we're not arguing face-to-face, we're arguing through the media ... But she has this church, and they do some great work — they feed hungry people, they do all kinds of things. But when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, she can't handle it. And she came out talking about the children of transgenders, for instance, are from the devil, and that did it for me. Do not hurt my community.

She seemed upbeat about life in the era of Trump, predicting a pendulum-swing back in the right direction, and talking up that INCREDIBLE Virginia House race that was recounted, flipping a seat blue by one, single, solitary vote.


IMG_1668_newLobbying for pics with the tennis superstar was a battle of the sexes that both sides won!

After the generous Q&A, King stuck around to pose for pictures with fans and continue the conversation, a conversation she's been having for over 40 years about right and wrong.