Do not miss PBS “American Masters” special on the legendary Billie Jean King which debuts tonight!
PBS gave me early access to tonight’s American Masters on Billie Jean King and I think I enjoyed even more than the superb HBO documentary of 6-7 years ago.
It airs tonight at 8 pm (check local listings) but you can also watch it here via the video below.
I think it’s because the interview with Billie Jean is even better and nearing 70, she has even more wisdom and perspective. There are also thoughtful interviews with Hillary Clinton, Elton John, Chris Evert, Venus Williams, BJK’s brother Randy Moffit who was a major league baseball player, the son of Bobby Riggs,Margaret Court, Rosie Casals, Gloria Steinem and many, many more.
Such good stuff.
This amazing person is so extraordinary that I defy you to watch tonight and not want to take it up a notch and really do something with your life – something for yourself but also that benefits others.
That’s what Billie Jean did and does.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Women’s Tennis Association, the union that allowed the female players to have their own tour with big prize money instead of playing second fiddle to the men.
It would not have happened without BJK.
That same year – 1973 – she won the triple crown at Wimbledon (singles, doubles and mixed) and beat Bobby Riggs in the famous Battle of the Sexes match.
This documentary really captures the time in women’s liberation and all the build up to the match and why it became so important outside of tennis.
BJK is still going strong and I love this quote from her towards the end of the special: ”I know I’m very idealistic. I’m off the charts on it. But that’s OK – I think that’s what keeps me going. I’ve been yelling and screaming that I’ve got one big thing left in me.”
Her personal life is not shied away from whatsoever. We see her marriage to Larry King which lasted a few decades, her affair with Marilyn Barnett which resulted in Billie Jean being outed publicly, then her acceptance of being a lesbian and beginning a nearly three decade relationship with former tennis pro Ilana Kloss.
Billie Jean seems at piece with herself and comfortable in her own skin and that is so nice to see because she’s done so much for all of us who love tennis and who believe in equality.
The American Masters series has never profiled a sports figure before.
I can’t think of a single person in the sports world better to start with.