One of most acclaimed players of all time, King was also the first to come out as gay, which she did in 1981. She’s also been an outspoken advocate for for LGBT rights and for women in sports, arguing for equal pay for female players and founding the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973.
“When I began preparing for the role, Billie invited me to play some tennis,” Stone recalled. “Let me be clear about something, I was a complete novice, I’d had three lessons and she, on the other hand, is one of the greatest players of all time so, a fair match it was not.”
After hitting repeated “clunkers,” Stone says she started getting frustrated, but King gave her some sage advice: “Forget the bad ones, focus on the next ball.”
For Stone, those words perfectly summarized how King lives her life.
“What I lacked in tennis skills I hope I made up for in my ability to connect with [King’s] essence and understand the greater lesson of what she was saying: ’Let go of the negative, stay open and positive. The next ball might just be a good one.’ That’s something Billie has lived by her entire life.”
In 2009 Billie Jean King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a civilian in the United States.
Two years ago President Obama selected King to be a part of the official US Delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics and she used the platform to speak out against anti-LGBT laws in Russia and around the world.
Below, Tegan and Sara discuss how King has been a role model for them