Rand Fan: Tennis Star Billie Jean King

A squirrely review of HBO’s new Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer includes this bit:

For these early years, Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer sticks close to the story lines laid down in the autobiography she wrote in the early eighties with the help of Frank Deford, who is also interviewed here like a wise old tortoise. Though executive producers Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein choose not to mention her past enthusiasms for astrology and Ayn Rand, nor the fact that sheâ??s part Seminole, we do spend quality time in blue-collar Long Beach, with her firefighter father, homemaking mother, and baseball-playing brother (Randy Moffitt), among the grammar schools and concrete courts in the public parks where the lower classes could play tennis for free.

Here is a familiar story of upward social mobility via organized sports instead of organized religion or organized crime. But here as well is a less familiar story, of democratizing from below. The genteel world of tennis into which Billie Jean entered at age 12, a chubby five feet four with glasses, was as white as it was male and moneyed, a country club of people born at center court. She never forgot scrounging for lessons, being sent home for not knowing better than to wear shorts when a skirt was required, having to make do without a scholarship despite the fact that she was Cal Stateâ??s best player, nor the coach who told her, at age 17, â??youâ??ll be good because youâ??re ugly, Billie Jean.â? So she attacked every net. And grew up from her first Wimbledon win, in doubles in 1961, to her feminist coming-of-age in the tumultuous sixties, to her organizing of the Virginia Slims tour, her unionizing of women players, her developmental work for the Womenâ??s Sports Foundation and World Team Tennis, and, of course, her thrashing of Bobby Riggs in three straight sets, after which she would show up on The Odd Couple and Sonny & Cher and even talk at a press conference about bisexuality as if it werenâ??t a war crime.

Somehow ‘astrology and Ayn Rand’ doesn’t come off as a compliment, but King seems like someone in whom we shouldn’t be surprised to find an individualist streak.
Apparently Atlas Shrugged turned her around, when she was going through a bad period in tennis, and considered quitting.