Tennis legend Billie Jean King spoke about what she wanted to achieve when she set out to create the WTA Tour along with other members of the WTA Original 9, in a podcast with WTA Insider.
Billie Jean King on what she wanted for the future generations while starting the WTA Tour
During the podcast, Billie Jean King says, "I just hope everyone who's listening will tell their story, know that they have a lot more power than they think, realize what you're blessed in, what you're good at.
It's really important to believe in yourself. When the Original 9 got together and we continued this at the WTA, we were always thinking about the future generations and here's what we thought about: No.1 if any girl born in this world, if she's good enough, has a place to compete.
Think about what it would be like if you only had the four majors. Don't forget the tour is very important. No.2, the player would be appreciated for her accomplishments, not only her looks, because that's all they talked about in our day.
No.3, to be able to make a living. That was our mantra of three things to carry forward for every single generation. Right now we don't have a place to compete. So I want them to think about how it is without these opportunities and when they come back they will think differently in how they'll approach their game, their life, and how to ensure that future generations will have a place to compete, be appreciated for their accomplishments, and be able to make a living."
Knig also spoke about athletes being told to talk only about sports and not get involved in other issues, something which is prevalent even today. "I think we have a platform. We're very lucky to have a platform. If you feel something individually, it's ok to say whatever you want.
I think each person has to figure out their own journey, but it's great when they can contribute and be out front and be honest. When we had our challenges in the 70s and when I was outed in 1981, I have to say, all the players were great.
Nobody cared, really, internally. But we were all frightened. It's something I hope the players don't feel today, I hope. Some may, if they are from countries that have difficulty with LGBTQ then they probably need to find people who will support them.
If let's say your parents or culture [don't approve], you have to find a way to not be shame-based about it even if they are. I think that's really important." Billie Jean King is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player.
She has won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. King has been an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. One of the major milestones in her career and her life came in 1973, when she won the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs.