Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women’s Sports
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.
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
- The University of North Carolina Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)
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