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Game, Set, Match

Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports

Susan Ware

Publication Year: 2011

While King did not single-handedly cause the revolution in women's sports, she quickly became one of its most enduring symbols, as did Title IX, a federal law that was initially passed in 1972 to attack sex discrimination in educational institutions but had its greatest impact by opening opportunities for women in sports. King's place in tennis history is secure, and now, with ###Game, Set, Match#, she can take her rightful place as a key player in the history of feminism as well. By linking the stories of King and Title IX, Ware explains why women's sports took off in the 1970s and demonstrates how giving women a sporting chance has permanently changed American life on and off the playing field.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-x

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Prologue: The Battle of the Sexes

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pp. 1-14

On the evening of September 20, 1973, an estimated 48 million Americans tuned their televisions sets to an unlikely event: a tennis match at the Houston Astrodome between a twenty-nine-year-old, five-time Wimbledon champion at the top of her game and a fifty-five-year-old former tennis great long past his prime. ...

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1. The Making of a Sports Icon

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pp. 15-42

In her 1982 autobiography, Billie Jean King reflected on the changes that she had seen in the first forty years of her life, a time of enormous transitions for women, tennis, and America in general. “Any woman born around 1943 has had to endure so many changes — in her educational experience, in her working life, ...

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2. In the Meantime: The Early Days of Title IX

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pp. 43-74

Thirty years after the Bobby Riggs match, Billie Jean King dramatically recalled her feelings about its larger historical significance for reporter Selena Roberts. “My job in the match, and I remember this being very clear, was to change the hearts and minds of people to match the legislation of Title IX ...

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3 Billie Jean King, Inc.: womenSports, the Women's Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis

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pp. 75-116

Billie Jean King was already approaching thirty when she beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes in 1973, and she must have known that her playing days would soon be drawing to a close. Her first retirement — after winning Wimbledon in 1975 — didn’t stick, but she was already devoting increasing time to a variety of business ...

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4. Before the Sports Bra: A Short History of Women’s Sports through the 1970s

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pp. 117-146

On July 10, 1999, more than 90,000 fans at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl and an American television audience estimated at 40 million watched the U.S. soccer team defeat China for the Women’s World Cup. Tied 0-0 in regulation and after two grueling overtimes, the game came down to a tense penalty shoot-out. ...

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5. The Feminist Moment That Wasn’t

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pp. 147-178

In her November 1977 Publisher’s Letter, Billie Jean King alerted readers of womenSports to be on the lookout for “the largest gathering of tomboys and ex-tomboys in recent history.” She wasn’t referring to a sporting event or pre-Olympic competition, but to the National Women’s Conference to be held in Houston ...

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6. The Perils of Celebrity and Sexuality: The Outing of Billie Jean King

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pp. 179-206

Americans have grown distressingly familiar with this scene: a male public figure, usually an elected political leader or prominent government official, calls a press conference to take responsibility for a scandal, usually involving sex, while his wife, looking like she has been run over by a truck, stands stoically at his side, offering her silent support. ...

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Epilogue: The Incomplete Revolution

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pp. 207-214

On August 28, 2006, the first night of the two-week-long extravaganza that is the U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association formally renamed its flagship tennis center in Flushing Meadows the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. “Mi casa es su casa,” King told a capacity crowd of 21,000. ...


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pp. 215-268

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pp. 269-272

Whenever I describe this project, the first question I am invariably asked is whether I interviewed Billie Jean King. The answer is yes, and I would like to thank her for taking time at a Women’s Sports Foundation event in Boston in 2007 to talk to yet another in the long line of journalists and writers who have been wanting a piece of her ...


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pp. 273-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781469603384
E-ISBN-10: 1469603381
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807834541
Print-ISBN-10: 0807834548

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011