Oh, what a treat! All In (Knopf), Billie Jean King’s newly released autobiography, is not only for tennis lovers, athletes, sports fans, equal rights activists and history buffs, it’s also for anyone who wants to be inspired by a complex and legendary woman who started out as a young girl from Long Beach, CA, with a dream.

Billie Jean King was born in the 1940s and fought an uphill battle to achieve success. She continually spoke out for social change, women’s sports and equality while working hard to have a successful athletic career. Billie Jean wanted to be a winner but cared less about becoming a champion and more about progression. From equal pay at the US Open to women’s rights and abortion — activism took a huge role in her life along with her unstoppable tennis ambitions. Negotiating equal prize money for men and women at the US Open by bringing Ban deodorant corporate funding in, being warm and welcoming to the not-so-well-liked at the time, 16-year-old Chrissie Everett, building the first all women’s tennis tour, starting the first women’s tennis magazine … Bille Jean King was a trailblazer.

KING, THE ATHLETE & KING, THE ACTIVIST

Her athletic talent and hard work led her to become a number one tennis professional and a 12-time Grand Slam Champion. She was the heart and soul of the Women’s Tennis Association and the winner of the Battle of the Sexes legendary match against Bobby Riggs.

After that big win “suddenly I was catapulted to the forefront of social justice movements that were affecting great change. I found myself with influence that leaped the firewall of sports and spread into the worlds of entertainment, business, and politics. This was the biggest platform I’ve ever had, and I intended to keep championing the cause of equality.”

All In is well written and reveals many social changes in our country over time. After her retelling the play-by-play of the Bobby Riggs match, I had tears in my eyes … what a victory for Billie Jean King and for women’s tennis. And while Billie Jean was out there fighting for rights publicly, she was dealing with inner battles as well. Married to a man she loved but attracted to women, afraid to be open and honest with her family and hiding an affair from everyone, fighting a stomach ailment, and ultimately, succumbing to an eating disorder … Billie Jean King had much to overcome. I am a huge fan now more than ever before, as an important woman in history as well as a tennis champion. I highly recommend picking up a copy of All In!

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Photo Credit: Roger Erickson

Billie Jean King is the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation; she co-founded World Team Tennis; and she is part of the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 2006, the National Tennis Center was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2020, the Fed Cup was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup, making it the first global team sports competition named for a woman. She was one of Life magazine’s “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century,” and in 2018, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. She is an Adidas Global Ambassador, a past member of the board of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and a past member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She lives in New York.