Billie Jean King profiled on PBS

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 10:53 AM Written by 


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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Tennis legend Billie Jean King gets the "American Masters" profile treatment tonight at 8 on WQED-TV. The 90-minute PBS documentary chronicles her career, her contributions to the sports world and to the women's rights movement.

Read more after the jump. ...

billie jean king 2King said what struck her most watching archival interviews in the film was how she and other women in sports in the 1970s tip-toed their way through interviews.

"We were very measured, that we didn't want to alienate people," she said at an August PBS press conference (pictured at left). "We were trying to promote our sport.  But I can remember feeling I was always on tightrope when I was speaking.  It was never easy.  I just could not really be myself.  And I think Fran├žois Duret from France, also, when she commented -- it's like we're always getting asked, "When are you going retire," "When are you going to get married," "When are you going to have babies," "When are you going to do this." And, you know, the men didn't get asked those  questions. And yet we were a part of the culture, in how we handled it.  We were very concerned, always, with our answers."

And while strides are measureable, King points out the ways in which women continue to lag behind their male counterparts, and not just in sports.

"Sports are a microcosm of society, and all it does is reflect the reality of what it is for women," she said. "It's just difficult. Everything takes time.  You know, we're still getting 77 cents on the dollar.  We have so far to go, still.  I mean, in Congress we're at 19 percent.  4 percent of engineers are women. Thank God for Title IX, 1972, or we'd be even much worse off."


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