Tonight, we had the privilege of being present for the PTR Awards Banquet and the induction of Billie Jean King into the PTR Hall of Fame in Hilton Head, South Carolina. PTR is the largest global organization of teaching professionals with more than 15,000 members in 125 countries. King is the fifth inductee, joining Dennis Van der Meer, Jim Verdiek, Dr. jIm Loehr and Arthur Ashe.
Billie Jean won 39 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. King also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Sportswomen of the Year Lifetime achievement award. She founded World TeamTennis and the Women’s Sports Foundation. She fought tirelessly for any inequality, in sports and in life. In 1973, she won the so-called Battle of the Sexes match with Bobby Riggs.
After receiving the award, she was interviewed and shared opinions and feelings about different topics. Her number one passion continues to be grassroots tennis and making tennis available to everyone. She reiterated how fortunate she was to have had the opportunity to participate in a free lesson program at a public park in California when she was young. She and her brother (who became a professional baseball player), loved completion. Both vowed at early ages that they would play professional, despite both of their parents being very nonchalant about competition. She professes that juniors should play tennis because they love it and not because of parental pressure.
Billie Jean said that not a day goes by, that when she is in public, a man or women doesn’t comment to her on how her match with Bobby Riggs effected them. Men often say that the match had an impact on how they treated and raised their daughters. Women comment on how her actions empowered them.
The last question focused on what she felt to be one of her greatest accomplishments. In typical Billie Jean fashion, she hesitated and then replied, “I’m not finished yet.” Thanks Billie Jean for all that you have contributed to tennis and our lives, and in advance, for your continued inspiration.