‘We Were Willing to Give Up Everything.’ Billie Jean King Reflects on Her Legacy and New Memoir All In
Published to Time on August 13, 2021
In your book, you write, “Even if you’re not a born activist, life can damn sure make you one.” How did you come to this conclusion?
When I was 12 years old, I had my epiphany. I had started playing tournaments to get rankings in Southern California. Everybody who played wore white shoes and white socks, white clothes, played with white balls, and everybody that played was white. And I remember saying, “Where’s everybody else?” I just knew if I ever could become No. 1, I would champion equality the rest of my life. But I knew I had to probably be No. 1, because I knew already at 12 years old that I was a second-class citizen, and I’m white! I knew my sisters of color had it tougher, I knew that others had it tougher, people living with disabilities.