Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

by Susan Ware
     
 

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Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Tennis great Billie Jean King was always in the thick of things. Ambitiously, she wanted to transform tennis from its country-club domain into a viable profession. She started coed Team Tennis and womenSports magazine, but it was 1973's televised "Battle of the Sexes," when she defeated Bobby Riggs, that sealed her reputation as a superstar. Independent scholar Ware (Title IX: A Brief History with Documents) approaches her subject by alternating chapters on King's life and career with chapters on feminism's history, Title IX legislation, and a historical overview of American women's sports. Mostly, this results in a seamless account of a turbulent time in American women's history, except for some understandably slow-moving sections on political and legislative struggles. Ware astutely places King at the vortex of the change in women's rights, gay causes (precipitated by the 1981 "palimony" suit brought against her), and sports professionalism, leaving no doubt about King's place in 20th-century women's sports. VERDICT Extensive notes ensure this book's value to students of women's history and women's sports as well as Billie Jean King's fans. (Index not seen.)—Kathy Ruffle, Coll. of New Caledonia Lib., Prince George, B.C.
Kirkus Reviews

An exploration of the link between the feminist revolution and the role of women in sports, as embodied by one of the 20th century's most iconic sports figures.

Ware (Title IX: A Brief History with Documents, 2006) would have been hard-pressed to choose a better lens through which to examine the transformation of women's sports—from seldom participated-in activities to an ever-growing field of high-level athletic excellence—than tennis superstar and trailblazer Billie Jean King, whose victory over Bobby Riggs in the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes"was a major catalyst for that change. Though biography is not the primary focus, the author provides a full account of King's life, touching on her early marriage to a man who would be more business partner than lover, her sexual confusion and ultimate coming out as a lesbian, and her indomitable drive to not only succeed in tennis, but to help the game of tennis succeed. King's rise to prominence coincided with the passage of Title IX, a piece of legislation designed to prevent sexual discrimination in federally funded academic institutions that would have its most profound impact on sports. The narrative is by turns an account of the passage of the legislation and progression of women's athletics, a theoretical discourse on second-wave feminism and sexuality as they relate to sports and a biography of the influential and controversial King, making it a book that works on multiple levels—a quality that also makes it somewhat jumbled. Though the historical details necessarily inform the theoretical dissertation, the balance between each element is uneven, making the narrative hard to categorize, even as it cogently argues that the passage of Title IX may actually have impeded the creation of a level playing field.

It's a tribute to how much has changed that much of the book's content will be shocking to readers under 30; it's also a measure of how much remains to be done, given the "separate but equal" approach that still dominates sports today.

From the Publisher
Ware's view of history as seen through the prism of Billie Jean King and Title IX should be read by women of all ages.--Louisiana History

Ware's view of history should be read by women of all ages--those who lived through it and survived it as well as (perhaps especially) the younger ones who benefited by it.--Story Circle Book Reviews

Game, Set, Match provides a window into the life of one of the most successful athletes of all time and her profound impact on women today.--American Association of University Women

Ware is a master of the art of biography, and, with this book, she once again shows its importance to the discipline of history.--The Historian

[A] winning combination of biography and social history.--Vogue

Ware astutely places King at the vortex of the change in women's rights, gay causes . . . and sports professionalism, leaving no doubt about King's place in 20th-century women's sports.--Library Journal

If you read one book, make it: Game, Set, Match. . . . As Susan Ware's biography of her shows, King's fight against sexism in sports might be her biggest accomplishment.--Shape

In Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports, the role of a pioneer and much of the leveling legislation she inspired--namely the NCAA's title IX provisions--is gamely told by women's history scholar Susan Ware.--Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807834541
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Billie Jean King was truly an important cultural figure of the twentieth century and a vital force in the feminist movement. Susan Ware has provided us with a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of the trials of that time and the triumphs of Billie Jean.--Frank Deford, author of Bliss, Remembered

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