The long awaited film Battle of the Sexes, based on the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, comes to theaters this Thursday! In an interview with AARP Bulletin, Billie Jean King discusses how the Battle of the Sexes match changed America, her passion for promoting equality and her daily inspiration.
On Gender Equality
“Girls are taught to be perfect. Boys are taught to be brave—“Stop crying.” That’s why girls never think they are good enough; it’s the message we get from the day we’re born. It drives me insane the way we’re socialized. The most important thing is to be your authentic self. Meritocracy is important. That’s one great thing about sports—it is objective. You either win or lose.”
On Beating Bobby Riggs
“The reason I beat him is because I respected him so much. Everybody in the world thought a guy—any guy—could beat any girl. That got me irritated. When I played Bobby, this is what I wanted out of it: I wanted everyone to come together. I wanted to start changing the hearts and minds of people.”
King also talks with AARP about her lifetime passion for racial equality, Bruce Jenner in the 1970’s (Caitlyn Jenner), how her game is holding up today, and what inspires her. You can read the full interview in the September issue of AARP Bulletin. You can also check out the video below.