NONFICTION

Billie Jean!: How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women’s Sports

Putnam. Aug. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525517795.
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K-Gr 3–As a child, athletically inclined Billie Jean King was angry that her favorite sports were for men only. She was then introduced to tennis and began doing so well that she was competing at Wimbledon while still a teenager. Despite her successes, she was a victim of the sexist double standards that negatively impacted female athletes. While male tennis champions were asked about their game, she was asked about her marriage and childbearing prospects. She also realized women were compensated far less than their male counterparts. When Bobby Riggs challenged her to a match in 1973, King was determined to beat him—which she did. She became a crusader for the equal treatment of women athletes, even testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Education to advocate for girls’ sports. Rockliff’s text deftly tells King’s story; Baddeley provides beautiful illustrations. An afterword offers further information about King, including a former girlfriend that outed King to the public. Less biography than a tale of King’s fight for women’s rights in professional sports, this volume is almost identical in scope to Brad Meltzer’s I Am Billie Jean King. However, Rockcliff’s narrative is better executed, and Baddeley’s pictures are more appealing.
VERDICT A good addition for collections needing information on the evolution of women’s treatment in professional sports through the life of one of its greatest icons

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