Billie Jean King Shares Her Advice For 2018

by Erika W. Smith

Earlier this week, America’s former No. 1 tennis pro and groundbreaking women’s and LGBTQ rights activist Billie Jean King shared some words of wisdom after a screening of the film about her famous 1973 tennis match against Bobby Riggs, Battle of the Sexes. The screening and conversation were held at Crosby Street Hotel and hosted by GLAAD to celebrate the film’s digital and Blu-ray release (as well as its recent Golden Globes and SAG Award nominations).

In conversation with GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis after the film, King spoke about how far we’ve come with equality, calling millennials “the greatest generation” for their commitment to social justice, inclusion and acceptance. She pointed out that when athletes today come out, they are often celebrated — but she had to stay in the closet in the 1970s for the sake of her career, and when she was outed by her former girlfriend in 1981, she lost all her endorsements.

Though she acknowledged that 2017 was a terrible year — asking of the tax reform bill, “How do we do that to our country?” — King said that ultimately, she has hope for the future.

“In some ways it’s going in reverse, and in some ways we’re going forward,” King said. “I think with the Women’s March, and I think with [Doug Jones’ defeat of Roy Moore in] Alabama the other night. There was a vote in Virginia, and they thought the Republican had won, and they recounted the votes and the Democrat won by one vote. I’ve talked to a lot of millennials who didn’t vote — and others — but please, vote. Can you imagine? Somebody won Virginia by one vote. So it’s really important. I think the backlash [to President Trump and the Repubilcan administration] will show up in 2018. I think people have had it. We’re seeing more activism, we’re seeing more women running in politics, we’re seeing gay and transgender [people] winning. I think we’re pushing the envelope now. […] I have faith now because these things do add up, and you listen to people, they’re fed up. That means everyone here, we all have to vote. Whatever you do, vote, vote, vote. And try to learn about the issues.”

Asked for her advice for people in 2018, King called on people to get more involved in activism.

“Participate, participate, participate,” she said. “Don’t get involved— get committed to whatever you think is the right thing to do. Find time, raise money, whatever you can, do. We all have different circumstances, different ages, different cultures, but just find a way to get committed to whatever you believe in in some way — in small ways, every single day. I think it really helps.”

We’ll second that.

See the full video below.

top photo via Twitter/GLAAD 

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