by Billie Jean King
You Can Quote Me on
That brought back a
flood of wonderful memories, and I discovered plenty
of juicy quotes I never heard before.
|( Photo credit: Art Seitz ©2009 )|
Ever since I first picked up
a tennis racket as an eleven-year-old in Long Beach,
California, Ive crusaded to improve the sport
I love. I battled country club elitism and snobbery,
the reactionary establishment, shamateurism,
racism, homophobia and sexism.
Winning thirty-nine Grand Slam
titles, including twenty at Wimbledon, and thumping
Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes
match gave me the public platform I needed. Early on,
I learned the power of words. They can make people laugh
and cry, think and argue, and ultimately inspire us
to do good and great things.
Tennis history has always been
a huge fascination for me. I loved stories about the
tradition-breaking flamboyance of Suzanne Lenglen, the
classic elegance of Helen Wills, and the serve-and-volley
boldness of Alice Marble.
As an enthusiastic teenager,
I not only dreamed of playing like these champions,
I wanted to be like them. Lenglen liberated tennis women
in the 1920s with her attitude as much as her then-risqué
attire. I just throw dignity to the wind and think
of nothing but the game, she proclaimed.
Those words stuck in my mind,
as did the eloquence of Helen Wills Moody, the first
American to dominate womens tennis. Seventy years
ago she said: Concerning the limits and limitations
of the womens gamewhy should we believe
there are any? My thoughts exactly!
That passion for tennis is reflected
every day around the world, whether it be at a gritty
public court in Compton, California, where Venus and
Serena got started, or Centre Court at Wimbledonmy
favorite place in the world. Tennis players tell it
like it is. They praise and lambaste opponents, confide
their hopes and fears, talk tennis issues, and express
themselves in every conceivable way.
Andre Agassi is one of my favorite
players because hes a champion off the court,
too. Hes raised millions of dollars for charities,
and his college preparatory academy in Las Vegas has
given hope to hundreds of disadvantaged children. After
Andre rebounded from a devastating career slump to win
Roland Garros in 1999, he said, Ive got
to say, what turns me on more than anything is just
making a difference in peoples lives. Thats
one thing Ive taken with me and Ill keep.
Probably even more so than the accomplishments itself
at the French Open is the fact that somewhere along
the line it gave hope to people.
Paul Fein, an award-winning journalist,
is also a sectional tournament player, former satellite
tournament director and regional TV commentator, and
teaching pro, who knows first-hand about the pressures,
joys and disappointments of competition.
Can Quote Me on That
contains hundreds of funny, informative and provocative
quotes by and about present and past stars on thirty-five
different topics. No one and nothing is spared.
I found the entire book engrossing.
Im sure you will, too. And you can quote me on
superstar Billie Jean King