Julia Gets Wise with Billie Jean King

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Today on Wiser Than Me, Julia sits down with 80-year-old tennis pro, activist, and LGBTQ+ icon Billie Jean King. Billie Jean delves into the nature of leadership, visualization, and her long journey towards self-acceptance. Inspired by the sports legend, Julia asks Billie Jean for advice about her niece’s college soccer career, as well as revealing the original spark that lit her own love of sports. Additionally, Julia’s mom, Judy, reflects on her generation’s acceptance of societal norms and the transformative power of the feminist movement.

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Mommy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Billie Jean King

Julia Louis-Dreyfus  00:01

I don’t exactly know how I became a sports fan because I was not an athlete when I was young, I was born in New York. And early on, I learned to ride a tricycle. And I was good at that trike. I wrote it in the hallway of our building, how much fun is an apartment hallway on a tricycle? It’s like, you know, just imagine being on a race track up and down, and up and down. Although, as I say this, I’m now remembering the shining. And of course, not so fun in that movie, but in reality is in fact, a lot of fun but I lived in the city. And so I never learned to ride a bike until I was like, I don’t know, eight. And everybody was riding bikes by then, you know, by eight, but I kind of missed that window. And I was so embarrassed because I had to have training wheels. I was always unsure of myself on a bike, and I still am. Really, I don’t really love riding bikes, they scare me. And bikes were the gateway to sports in elementary school. And so I was just kind of fucked. And I just didn’t play sports. I went to an all girls school and the sports that were available to us were field hockey, basketball, tennis, and gymnastics. I did not excel at any of these things. At a girl’s school, you know, the sports girls were popular. And I think that’s one of the great things about an all girls school women are the very top of the sports world you cheer for girls, and all my best friends were athletic. So I wanted in on that. So I tried gymnastics. I even competed in an event. I think this was in fifth or sixth grade or something. It was a big meet. Is that what it would be a gymnastics meet? I don’t know anyway, I had use routine on the balance beam that I practiced and practice. So I got up on the beam, big smile and everything, probably pretending I’m Olga Korbut, or whatever. And there’s a crowd there. And at that moment, I swear to Lord Jesus, the whole routine went out of my head completely. Just I mean, just telling you this right now it’s making my palms sweat, I could remember nothing. So I just started to make things up. You know, in the movie version of this, I improvised this great routine and you know, everybody applauds. But in real life. I got the lowest score ever on a beam. It was like less than one out of 10 by the way, that’s my big sports memory. Oh, wait a minute. Here’s another one. Okay, so we had two gym teachers, Mrs. Nevitt, who everybody loved and Mrs. Moody who was English. This is probably the best moment of my high school sports career. We were in PE and it was tennis day and all of a sudden, I hear Mrs. Moody the English one she goes, cover your eyes, girls cover your eyes, and a bunch of boys were streaking. Anybody remember streaking running around naked it was the thing back then it’s a federal offense now of course but anyway, a bunch of boys were streaking naked across the field by the tennis courts. I don’t know who these boys were this was an all girls school. So I suppose it was fertile ground for teenage male strikers. So like anyway for boys go running by and I did just as Mrs. Moody instructed, I covered my eyes. But I remember it was laughing so hard that you know, I mean, it’s not a great come from behind victory. It’s not a championship game. This is the kind of sports memory that I have. And the funny thing is that I consider myself athletic now. I mean, sports and exercise are a huge part of my life and our family life is totally sporting. My kids are great athletes. My husband is a sports nut. He’s always riding a bike or surfboard or kite foiling or snowboarding or something. And I work out literally every day and I love it. And growing up, my dad used to bet on a lot of sports, he had a bookie and everything, and he’d throw fits about the Mets and the New York Giants and the Knicks. And I paid no attention at all, except when he’d get an envelope full of cash, which was great. That was always very exciting. But then my kids started playing high level sports. And I started to see what it meant to them and started to get to know the other kids and their personalities and the stories that came along with the game. And I became a pretty knowledgeable basketball fan. And I fell in love with college basketball, and abracadabra, I’m a sports fan. You know, in our current time when everything is fragile, and unsteady and so complicated, where so many things seem like a lose lose proposition. Here are sports, which despite the dubious character of some of the participants and the corruption of the leagues, and, you know, sports always come down to a definable contest. There’s a great line in that Old Walter Hill de movie cult film The Driver, Bruce Stern, who’s always so good love Bruce Stern. He plays this rough cop and at one point he says, you know what I do first thing every morning read the sports page. You know why? Best part of the newspaper winners losers how it happened. Final score. I love that. The clarity of that God is that appealing. No bullshit. You can’t editorialize the final score. Winners losers heroes heartbreak, elation, what’s not to love. That’s why I’m so glad that today we get to talk to one of the greatest of all champions, Billie Jean King.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  05:40

Hi, I’m Julia Louie Dreyfus, and this is Wiser Than Me the podcast where I get schooled by women who are wiser than me.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  06:11

Okay, let me set the stage here in 1966 when today’s guest first reached number one in the world and tennis, women couldn’t serve on juries in any of the 50 states. They couldn’t get an undergraduate degree from almost any Ivy League college. They couldn’t run the Boston Marathon. They couldn’t legally refuse sex with their husbands. Of course, there were some things they could do. They could get fired for being pregnant. They could be denied a credit card without a male cosigner, and they could play any sport they wanted. Just none professionally, except golf. And that’s in 1966, not 1866. Then, along came Billie Jean King 39 Grand Slams, 20 Wimbledon titles, a lifetime of battling for and winning women’s right to equal pay not just in tennis, but way way beyond. She founded and led the Women’s Tennis Association and is the first female athlete ever to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Not to mention over 90 million people worldwide watched the match we now call the battle of the sexes. I mean, seriously, folks, let that sink in. Almost a quarter of Americans tuned in to watch her beat Bobby Riggs in 1973. In three straight sets, might I add? She’s a sports icon. She’s an LGBTQ plus icon, a feminist icon and let’s face it, she’s just basically iconic. It’s no exaggeration to say that Billie Jean King has changed the world. She is arguably the most important athlete of our time, I could not be more thrilled to talk to a woman who is so much wiser than me the one and only, Billie Jean King. Hi.


Billie Jean King  07:59

Hi, after that, I’m going to stop.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  08:03

Don’t stop. You got to keep going. You got to keep going.


Billie Jean King  08:06

Oh, no, I’m not done yet, are you kidding? Everybody says, well, now that you’re so old, you know, what are you going to do? And I said, I’m not done yet. You know, or you haven’t even I have several energy. You know, some.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  08:18

Well, so speaking of age, are you comfortable? If we say.


Billie Jean King  08:21

I love it, I never I’m 80 I just turned 80 last November, November 22.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  08:27

But how well do you feel?


Billie Jean King  08:29

I don’t know. What’s 80 supposed to feel like? I every I always asked myself like, when I was 16 when I was 50 when I was 40 when I was 30 when I was 20. I’m like, what am I supposed to feel? I don’t know. I am what I am. The number is there but it’s really how is my health? I think right? And how you feel and how do you feel? How do I feel physically, emotionally, mentally, you know, I asked myself those questions. I mean, I still do therapy every week. psychotherapy.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  08:57

The psychotherapy. Oh, absolutely therapy.


Billie Jean King  08:59

I don’t need physical therapy. Well, a lot of my wife got me out during COVID to hit to hit tennis balls again, I hadn’t for 20 years. I had a lot of knee operations and shoulder everything. And I said okay, let’s try because I just love it so much. I mean I love to hit the ball. So we do two or three times a week now she has you know Alana was number one in the world and doubles and she still plays a lot so she’s she’s younger she’s in her late 60s so she has the ball right to me it’s just amazing. I meet people are playing and that we have a 100 and under event category for people that are 100 and under and it is hilarious, you know shot they use all the time as a draw shot because you can’t move and it’s hilarious.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  09:48

But wait a minute women whose the old.


Billie Jean King  09:50

I don’t know who the oldest one is? I don’t know, I’ve got to find out. No, I don’t know.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  09:54

You got to find out.


Billie Jean King  09:55

I will find out.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  09:56

Somebody’s got to be in their 90s, right?


Billie Jean King  09:59

Oh for sure. Oh, Oh no, they’re just like probably 98, 99 in there. Yeah, for sure.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  10:05

Hey, so what’s your relationship with your body like now Billie Jean I mean, has it changed as you’ve gotten older? Is your brain moving faster than your body? How does that.


Billie Jean King  10:14

Well the brain definitely goes a little faster in the body now but my brain slower to I think I’ve always been in tune with my body. My brother, my I just so everybody knows. A lot of people do know this. A lot of people do not have a younger brother, he’s five years, almost five years younger, four years, 11 months. Randy Moffat Moffitt’s, our birth name and he played professional baseball for 12 years. Most of us was the San Francisco Giants. But the third word we learned was ball. You know if mommy ball daddy ball, we just were infatuated. They can roll it on the ground, they can throw it in the air, we didn’t care. And then if you as you get older, you start to realize it’s science and art together. And you want to be playing in front of people. You’re a performer, it’s so much fun. It’s very expressive. It’s like the I love dance, I love ballet, I love all that I like to.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  11:04

My son Charlie’s it was a D one athlete, he played basketball. He had a teacher when he was in sixth grade. He had real trouble sitting still, by the way. His first word was also ball, and right. And so he had this teacher who was incredibly intuitive. And she let him bounce a ball during class smart, smart. Right? So he was able to concentrate as a result. Tracy shout out to Tracy.


Billie Jean King  11:32

That was brilliant. Who do that? Yeah, because brilliant. That’s very interesting. Because in school I got demoted with my grades when I did do well in sports because I’m a girl.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  11:42

Demoted with grades.


Billie Jean King  11:44

Yeah, I got unsatisfactory said unsatisfactory in fourth grade because Mrs. Miss politics said that I had done too well in sports and you know, kind of like bragging to show I guess to her, I didn’t say anything. I just did it, and she said, I’m gonna give you an unsatisfactory because of that. Now, that would never to a boy, you’d be honored.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  12:05

And yeah, he would be lauded for it.


Billie Jean King  12:07

Correct, so that’s the difference growing up, always getting negative feedback for doing what I wanted to do.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  12:13

But wait, how did your parents react to that? Once you got the unsatisfactory.


Billie Jean King  12:17

They just let it go. They said, just ignore it don’t worry. Just keep going. My mother didn’t want want me to play football and other sports because she wanted me to be a lady at all times. And I said, mommy, what is that? She said, oh, you know? And I said, No, mommy, I don’t know what that means is I just remember that. So when I was playing tennis, she was happier, happier. But my dad understood totally he was we basketball is our first love. So he was a basketball player. And he got asked back in the 40s to join the NBA and he didn’t because there wasn’t any money in its time. And he’s very risk adverse that generation with the depression, World War Two but now he came home and became a firefighter and which I love that he was a firefighter. Oh, god.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  13:07

Yeah, I love that, too.


Billie Jean King  13:08

I loved it but it was very difficult when he go to work, because I never knew if he’s going to come back.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  13:14

So he was a proper hero. Right?


Billie Jean King  13:16

Well, to me was because he believed in me as much as my brother as well. Yeah, I mean, he he told me to go for it. And everybody else around me saying, Hmm, they didn’t really care. But I really wanted to change the world through sports through my dad. And that’s really what you know, it’s, I wanted us to be a pro sport. We’re an amateur sport. It was so terrible. I used to just go crazy.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  13:41

Hey, listen, let me ask you something just because I’m interested about this. Because you’re obviously so fit. And you are eight years old.


Billie Jean King  13:48

You are a year right, I am fit for an eighty year old but I don’t you know.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  13:52

I want give me […]


Billie Jean King  13:54

Thing again, I’m also doing a lot of weight work.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  13:57

Okay, so that’s my question. What’s your exercise regime besides playing tennis two to three times a week with Alana, what else are you doing lifting weights?


Billie Jean King  14:05

I’ve started lifting weights again, I made a promise this year. Instead of doing it sporadically, I’d be pretty consistent, which I have been. But we’re still working full time. It’s not in work itself and traveling like we do, I think also keeps me fit also keeps my mind active, solving challenges, not problems. And I am so happy I was a sports because it’s made me strong. It’s just helped me be strong at every way. There’s something well, it must be like you and your acting. I always wonder what actors go through.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  14:36

In terms of what?


Billie Jean King  14:37

Like the pressure that’s on you. Like they say, let’s go you know, and you have to start the scene and course if it’s not live, which I’m sure you’re thrilled with Seinfeld and others that didn’t work live because I don’t know how you guys get through a scene without cracking up at each other.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  14:54

Well, sometimes we did but having said that, there are endorphins that are you know, the butterflies, whatever you call it, facing through, it’s a sail racing through your body when you’re working.


Billie Jean King  15:07



Julia Louis-Dreyfus  15:08

I mean, even now talking to you, I can feel that, you know, I want to have a good conversation with you, I can feel that driver, you know, that’s in place. And it can paralyze you but it can also be great fuel. And I usually use it for fuel to tell you.


Billie Jean King  15:23

I’m a fuel person, I like pressure. I have a say pressure is a privilege.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  15:28

I know I love that saying it is a privilege.


Billie Jean King  15:30

It is a privilege to have our opportunities for you to do what you have done and continue to do and what I do and what I did, and you know, what I don’t like about getting older as people give up on you.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  15:41

Oh, come on, who’s given?


Billie Jean King  15:42

I know, there’s ageism involved. There really is.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  15:45

That talk about.


Billie Jean King  15:46

Let’s say commercials on television? This is take commercials. And not just television obviously, it’s everything now. I’d like people to when they watch commercials to really pay attention to who’s in them. Let’s just talk about the ones athletes are in. It’s usually male athletes. They’re older, but they are the ones who get the ads. If you’d see a woman, she’s usually a lot younger, probably around 30. They don’t give us the same opportunities.


Billie Jean King  16:14

Do you know how many times they’ll have a woman athlete or a woman? And they’ll say she’s such a great role model for women. Now, go to a male if a male’s a role model, they don’t say, Oh, he’s a great role model for men. He’s a great role model role model. I mean, it’s like everyone can be a role model for somebody if that’s what the person likes. Like for me, Althea Gibson was my first Shiro and she was the first to win and, and I, I didn’t think of her that way. I thought of her as the number one player. And I want if you can see it, you can be it. So I saw her live when I was 13. And I realized how good I’d have to be, and I went, oh, my gosh, I’m gonna have to read. Oh, I’m gonna have to practice so hard. Oh, my God.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  16:14



Julia Louis-Dreyfus  17:00

But you knew you’re gonna do it?


Billie Jean King  17:02

Yeah. Well, I certainly hope to I, of course, that was my goal. Since the time I was 11 to be number one in the world. There was no question. But still, still to see, Althea made a huge difference in my life in that she was number one. And if you can see up at night, you know how good you have to be and what made her great.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  17:22

I’m just so struck by the realization that you had when you were 12. That means you were saw that so many people were being excluded from tennis, and you decided to work on changing that.


Billie Jean King  17:32

No, it wasn’t tennis. It was life. It was like watching little rock and like the Little Rock Nine or watching that black kids couldn’t go to school with the white kids. And I asked my dad, why is that? That’s ridiculous. He says, well, it’s the south. And because it’s Southern California, that never happened to me I mean, I, you know, didn’t matter. And that really bothered me.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  17:55

Yeah, of course. And you also notice that it was like only white people playing tennis, right? When you went to that country?


Billie Jean King  18:00

Absolutely, I just everybody wore white clothes. Everybody played with white balls, and everybody played was white. Yeah, I said, that’s not right. This belongs to everyone. It’s such a great sport. Although I didn’t have the know how 12 years old that there were black people playing but I had never seen them. But they were they formed their own Association, the ATA in 1916. So they had their tournaments, but they weren’t allowed to play in the white tournaments, and just like if you go to the US Open today, which a lot of people do, it’s huge. It’s one of the majors. And well, black people weren’t allowed to play until 1950. And that’s when Althea was a player, the 50s. And that’s when she won everything, and she won the US Nationals now that would be the US Open, and she was the first to win. Without her, they wouldn’t have been Arthur Ashe or Zina Garrison or Serena or Venus or all these great players. And so I think that was a good example.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  19:00

It’s time for a quick break. But don’t worry, there’s more with Billie Jean King and just a bit.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  19:04

But what I’m so struck by is that you were so sensitive to sort of the disenfranchised at a very young age. And I’m wondering where you think, how did that happen? Where did that sort of intuition that you had, where did that come from, was that the culture and your family or.


Billie Jean King  19:32

My parents were good to each other, a kind to each other, which I think was huge. Just watching how they related not to say it was perfect or anything God knows that, but they get into it, but not. They’re very good to each other and very kind and thought about others. But also, you know, leaders don’t choose followers followers choose leaders. And a lot of times it’s sports. You need somebody to choose a team, for instance, and the kid has always chose me to be the leader or the captain. And I was on a bicycle committee and then I was only supposed to be the secretary but I they ended up always saying, You lead you do this, I go, no.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  20:13

Wait a minute women bicycle committee.


Billie Jean King  20:15

We had a plane in elementary school, which I have no idea what it means now. No, I think we had to keep our bikes a certain area, we had to take care of them. We had to put them in these racks. You know, you got to just do the right thing and all that the school keep them in the right place.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  20:30

I love that.


Billie Jean King  20:31

So I was on that committee and then, you know, but I was always I was always pushed into leadership positions. And finally, in tennis, even when we’re older, you know, the players have no, you’re the one you’re the one I go, no why not? You when I you know, typical girls, you know, when they’re trying to go out to dinner? Where do you want to go to eat?  Oh, I don’t care.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  20:52

What are you? Where are you?


Billie Jean King  20:54

So if there was a guy in the in the group, I always asked the guy go, where do you want, he goes, I want to go, here we go, great someone made a decision. Because we’re taught always to think about somebody else. Okay, always take care of the other. So anyway, the players pushed me finally, I just remember one night, just kind of daydreaming, lying down on the bed and just thinking, You know what, I’m going to not only accept this, I’m going to thrive on it. Because I’m meant to, you know, I thought back to my epiphany as a kid how I felt about everything I go, what am I doing, I’m meant to do this. And that was it. I just embraced it and absolutely decided to be the best leader I could be. But to be a great leader to me means for instance, it can’t be a me you have to be we or you can’t be I, you have to be us, you know, or you have to include others in your it’s always about what can I do to help the people have a better life? How can I make it better for all of us, but particularly them first. And that’s what makes me tick is creating opportunities for others. That’s really what I love, like, starting the Women’s Sports Foundation, I founded it 50 years ago, we have our 50th anniversary this year, I am so stoked. We’ve given out over $100 million of just helping kids especially girls of color. Also, we work with the National Women’s Law Center, over Title Nine. Those are the things that that mattered to me a lot.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  22:24

Have you ever very deeply doubted yourself as a leader?


Billie Jean King  22:29

Oh, for sure. You always wonder, especially when you didn’t make it happen? You know, if I didn’t make it happen, I go God, where did I go wrong? And but you know what? It’s you’re only as good as the team is. Also relationships are everything. They really are.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  22:46

Yeah, right. It starts from that. But like when was an example where it didn’t go the way you wanted? And then you had doubts what would be an example of that Billie Jean?


Billie Jean King  22:56

Well, the thing I love the most prominent tennis is World Team Tennis started in 1974. Ilan and I ended up running it over time over the last part of it, we sold it to billionaires, because we thought, we really need more money in this if we’re gonna do it right. And they wanted it. So we sold it to them, but you know, they let it go eventually. And so I was very upset with myself. And I thought God if I could start over, because it’s so easy in hindsight, you know, there wasn’t there wasn’t the money in 74 that there is now. Now people are investing in women’s sports. They’re actually investing in it, not helping us. They think it’s a great investment now for them. They think it’s first time.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  23:37

Economic opportunity.


Billie Jean King  23:38

Yes, they do, it is which it is worth over 100 years late. I mean, it’s like it is really a lot of work and in long term investment. But it’s worth it because because it gives women and girls a platform that didn’t have, and to help these kids. I keep telling them every one of you is a leader in your town, your state, your country, your world. You if you decide whatever makes you happy to do things, but look what you how much you can give back to kids coming up. But more importantly, it’s about how can we help others that don’t have as much and women should try to make a lot of money. I tell women to be ambitious. We need to have more women on boards.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  24:19

Yes, we do, we need more women on boards. We need more women in positions of leadership. We need more women period making decisions.


Billie Jean King  24:28

Oh, yeah.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  24:29

Which Oh god, this reminds me by the way, I wanted to ask you about Renee Richards, the first transgender woman to play for the WTA back in the 70s.


Billie Jean King  24:37



Julia Louis-Dreyfus  24:37

Can you tell us that story about how you convinced the players at the WTA to allow Renee to come on board? Can you tell us that story? So good?


Billie Jean King  24:46

Yes, Ilana. She’s the only person ever to play Rene as a male and Renee is a woman I keep it is amazing.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  24:57

Okay, that’s, by the way, an incredible fact. But tell I mean, how did you get the other women on the tour to let Renee play tell that part?


Billie Jean King  25:07

Well, I went and talked to doctors. I said, how should we perceive this? I’m very ignorant. And they said, no, she’s considered a woman. I said, okay. I said, do you think she should be able to play as a woman? And they said, yes. I called Renee, which, for me is hard to call. If you know me, well, I’m very, actually shy and have a hard time calling people so.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  25:29

Okay, I have I do have a problem believing what you’re gonna.


Billie Jean King  25:33

Ask Alana, she’ll tell you. I sucked it up, because it also it’s not about me here. It’s about others. I’m good. I’m good one. It’s about the team.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  25:40

Okay, yeah, I hear that.


Billie Jean King  25:41

And I called her and I said, can I listen to you and talk to you? And she’s great so we talked for four hours. I listened to her and I went back to the woman. I said, you guys, were really should let her play according I’ve gone to the I’ve done some homework. And they said, no. And I said, okay, I hear you. And I had this thing with the woman that always used to work, I finally figured it out.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  26:03

Which is?


Billie Jean King  26:04

How about if we try to let her play for two weeks, I would cut the time down really tight, short.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  26:11

So it’s like a sample?


Billie Jean King  26:13

Yeah, and like, it won’t be too much for them psychologically, emotionally to handle and they go, okay, we’ll try that. Okay, so she comes on the tour. And within three or four days, they come on, she is so nice. She is so great.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  26:28



Billie Jean King  26:28

Because they were worried about the locker room, you know, there’s a lot of things that go through your mind that we were so ignorant, we don’t understand, oh, they loved her. They were fine. They were fine after that, that was fine. Now, it’s very different, though, because there’s a lot more transgender athletes, and should they be allowed to play in elite competition, some people were very emphatic about it that they shouldn’t. I’m on the side of inclusion as my first year want. So I don’t want anyone to be excluded. So we got to figure this out. So yeah, we got to figure it out. Because I don’t want anyone not to be able to participate that that’s what kills me.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  27:06

So you’ve spent so much of your life, making the world as you continue to do today, a better place for everybody else. Have you always taken care of yourself? Do you think that that this is a way of putting off taking care of yourself to a certain extent.


Billie Jean King  27:24

For sure when I was younger, but I took care of myself when I was playing, because it was part of the goal. Like eat so many calories a day work out, take good care of myself that I have to it’s part of my job. That was very good, then. But then you know, I have an eating disorder. And I’m a binge eater. Every morning, I wake up, I tell myself, I have an eating disorder. I still go to therapy. I still think about it. It’s interesting with the new injections, you know, with the Olympics of the world, and right. It’s very interesting, because my doctor wants me to try it.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  28:02

Do you want to?


Billie Jean King  28:03

I don’t want to lose weight fast, because I think it looks horrible. I don’t think it’s healthy. I would like to lose it. Slowly, but the important thing my therapist asked me, which I hadn’t thought about is that she said has it quieted your mind? Because I’ve taken a few injections now. I went whoa, that’s interesting. Because with an eating disorder, I have like two voices in my head sometimes argue.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  28:33

And what do they say?


Billie Jean King  28:35

It’s too two sides. Let’s say I want a quart of ice cream. Once I’ll say yeah, baby, I’m gonna have that ice cream no matter what. And the other side says no, don’t do that. It’s not healthy. You know, you don’t need it. You’re not gonna miss it. The other side goes, screw you. I’m having this ice cream. So yeah, I have this, this discussion that goes on in my head. And sometimes it’s very elevated. I mean, it really elevates.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  29:03

Uh huh.


Billie Jean King  29:04

And that’s what I thought was very interesting, because this is we talked about this and eating disorders. And it was such a great question because if it does do that.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  29:14

Quiet the voices.


Billie Jean King  29:15

Quiet the voice if that’s a part of it. Now I’m now I’m on it. Because, uh huh. That would be really great. Because that gets exhausting and tiring. And I don’t want to fight over these things you know, it’s like God, do I have to go through this again, every day? It’s not every day. It’s just different moments. And then I say are [..] more stressed? Is that why this is happening? Now? That doesn’t follow at all? No, I’ve tried that. So the point is, I still get it doesn’t matter. So I got to pay attention. That’s the main thing.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  29:45

When exactly did you start to sort of look after yourself take really.


Billie Jean King  29:51

I’d say, and when I was around 50 and I was going through all my sexuality stuff like oh my god, I was a mess. And that I think caused a lot of my eating disorder order as well.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:00

So what happened at 50?


Billie Jean King  30:02

I went to Renfrew in Philadelphia back in 95-ish. And I went to therapy and I lived there for six weeks. It and when you go to when you go there, you cannot communicate with the outside world really. And I would go to therapy three times a week. I would go to there’s there’s also couples you have to go to which Ilana about fainted. She’s what she calls why.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:26

Wait a minute. Rhett Renfrew is an eating disorder clinic, is it?


Billie Jean King  30:29

Yes, oh, you go live there.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:31

Okay, yeah.


Billie Jean King  30:32

And every Friday you have family.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:34

Oh, boy. It’s rough.


Billie Jean King  30:36

And then you have every hour on the hour. You have a different, like movement therapy, sculpture, therapy, everything, therapy, whatever.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:45

Did your parents come in?


Billie Jean King  30:47

They finally came after I just kept pleading with them to come. They came once.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  30:51

And have that go?


Billie Jean King  30:52

And went alright, it went pretty good. Except my dad leaned over to me, and he’s so cute. He goes, Billy, you’re not like these other girls here. And I looked at him and I go, Dad, I’m exactly like these girls here. He started laughing. I started laughing because we always had a sense. You know, you always laugh at anything. And I could wait. And there’s one other name there. No, he because he thinks I’m fine. He thinks I’m great, and I go dad. Oh, I go dad. I’m just like them. I’m, I’m struggling and he goes, okay, honey, I hear your sense. You’d call when things are good. Assess what it was Billy Jane, if I came to the door, I knew I was in big trouble.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  31:31

And what about your mom? What was that like to have?


Billie Jean King  31:34

A harder time than my dad with my being gay or trying to figure out who I am bisexual in the beginning? I don’t know. But no, and I noticed you call your mother mommy. I call my mother mommy too. And I love calling my mother mommy. She also loved hearing it and receiving it.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  31:53

Yeah, it’s cozy, isn’t it?


Billie Jean King  31:54

Oh, it’s so it’s like a big hug. It’s It’s adorable.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  31:56

It’s like a big hug. That’s exactly right. And my boys call me Mom and I love it.


Billie Jean King  32:00

I love mommy. I call my love me up to the end of her life.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  32:04

And you call your daddy daddy right?


Billie Jean King  32:06

I call him daddy. Yeah, I call him Yeah, obviously I’m at they’re not alive anymore. Unfortunately, I wish they were there. They were I gotta wrap my brother and I talked about how fortunate we were to have them and they never really asked us if we won. You know, so many parents got did you?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  32:22

Did you win?


Billie Jean King  32:23

I know to go how did they go? Of course if I lost I was just crazed. I love […] My dad would go, I just have one question. Did you try your best? I said of course I tried my best. He goes, that’s good enough.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  32:40

Yeah, you’re lucky. I have to say ours that our son that I mentioned to you. He was a basketball player when he was young. And if he lost a game, my husband and I would negotiate who was going to drive him home if we were there in separate cars. Because he would be screaming and rising in the back seat.


Billie Jean King  33:03

Okay, they lost, I should have been with him. We would have had a great time.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  33:06

He was history. I mean, it was so fucking bad with him in the back seat. I’m telling you.


Billie Jean King  33:12

So how did you decide you want to be an entertainment? Can I ask you this?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  33:15

Yeah, you can ask me anything.


Billie Jean King  33:16

Yeah, I’d rather ask you questions, really.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  33:18

I just always wanted to be an actor. Just like from my earliest memory. I was always performing.


Billie Jean King  33:26

Yeah, you were because your your mother explained that you asked her how was I as a girl, remember in one of your interviews?  When you talked to her in the in she said you were dialogue, you know, the dialogue going and you had this going? And , she said you were always you were always basically acting, which I didn’t use that.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  33:44

When we were in when when we were in nursery school. They used to have naptime, you know? And I would get I would stand on my blanket. And I would dance for people. Oh, that during naptime.


Billie Jean King  33:58

So you.like dancing too?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  34:00

Well, I like performing. So my naptime dance was it seemed to be a big hit among the nursery school.


Billie Jean King  34:06

It would have been great.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  34:08

Oh my god.


Billie Jean King  34:09

I remember kindergarten. That’s what we’re supposed to have these little naps. I’m like, Oh, can I go play basketball? Can I go play baseball, softball, can I go?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  34:18

You know, I was I have to tell you when I was in. I didn’t play much tennis because I the one thing that I get, I get when I start to compete physically in a sport. I get very anxious. It’s not for me. And but I did go to tennis camp when I was in eighth grade, or seventh grade. And they gave awards out at the end and they gave me Miss Congeniality.


Billie Jean King  34:44

Okay, but it’s like, I could just see that. But it’s interesting that you feel anxious. And when I listen to you, how you how you feel when you perform. It’s how I feel when I play tennis. I don’t feel, that anxiety that you feel at the tennis camp at all? Yeah, right. I want to be where I am, I love it, I love the I want. In fact, I love tennis to be more boisterous. I think it’s too quiet. I think we have names on the back of the shirt. I think we are just so out of it. Because you know, they keep I keep saying you guys. Everybody wants, I said, you’re talking to 40 year olds, you’re talking to 50 year olds. I said, what about the 7, 10 year olds? Their concentration spans seven seconds now?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  35:28

I mean, yeah, no kidding.


Billie Jean King  35:30

We got to do stuff we got to do, but I’ve wanted this forever for our sport. Okay, because I grew up in the other sports like, hey, how about have you know, in Wimbledon went backwards ago. Oh, no, we’re gonna go back to all white. What? I said. Oh, great, so now you told me.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  35:46

All white clothes.


Billie Jean King  35:47

Yes. Oh, wait, no, no predominantly white anymore. So I turned it on? Oh, great both people have widened each in Okay, great. who’s who? It’s ridiculous.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  35:57

It’s ridiculous.


Billie Jean King  35:58

We’re out to lunch?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  35:59

How do you make that change? That’s actually an interesting change to try to.


Billie Jean King  36:02

You know, I’m just gonna keep trying.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  36:04



Billie Jean King  36:04

Because we have the Billie Jean King Cup, which is the World Cup of women’s tennis. Now, they renamed it after me. And now we’re involved in that. And and we want to make that, you know, like the Soccer World Cup. It’s the world. Tennis in the men’s Davis Cup. And we’re working with them and I think there’s a real culture to it, that we are missing out on that would be fun for the audience because when you perform, as you know, everything is about your audience. And that tennis court is our stage that when I look at a tennis court, I go, oh, that’s my stage. Yeah, baby, give me the ball, you know, type of feeling. And so what so when you walk out there, it’s, you know, here’s what most players think are athletes, they think everyone’s there for them. No, we’re there for the audience. A hard job is to make the audience have a great day, great moment. And when they go home at night, they go, oh, God, that was great. That was whatever, and I want to go back or I want to take up this or I want to do that. You know, it’s like, we are there for them. And everybody in tennis thinks the audience is there for them. And I’m like, Oh, my God, you’re so I, it’s we them? You know, I don’t know. That’s how I think.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  37:13

So can we let’s talk about for a second, female empowerment. Have you always in your life felt equal to men?


Billie Jean King  37:21

I’ve never felt equal to men.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  37:24

A ha, talk about that Billie Jean King.


Billie Jean King  37:29

I’ve met, let me let me correct that. I do feel equal, the world doesn’t feel we’re equal. That’s what it is. The world looks at us differently. I don’t particularly look at us that much differently, just personally on a personal level. But every single day, I have to deal with.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  37:46

Some misogyny.


Billie Jean King  37:49

If I’m around a male athlete, I’m definitely in the background, you know. And yet, people who are in the know, sometimes they’ll say, hey, bud, you should move over. You’re not even close to what she’s done or something occasionally, but I don’t. We’re second class citizens all the time, in pay in attention. The money we make is always less. That’s why I want women’s sports to do well. Because I know the more we make, the more people appreciate us, the more they think about every single job though. It’s about thinking, Oh, women deserve to have the same. Yeah, we shouldn’t have to be going through this. But the way the lot what you start how you started the program is exactly what the challenge is, you know, not to be able to get a credit card when I was playing and also.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  38:34



Billie Jean King  38:35

In 1966 actually, Title Nine hadn’t happened. Title Nine happened in 72. So I didn’t get a scholarship. I didn’t get paid to go to college, I worked two jobs. And nobody gave, I think it’d been reversed. Let’s say I’m the one that got to go to school on a scholarship to college on a scholarship. And the guys didn’t I guarantee you everybody be absolutely crazy that the men don’t, and the men don’t get something, they go crazy. Well, they got they need to do that more and more for us.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  39:05

And they’re listened to you know, it’s funny, I was talking to my friend Paul, about this just yesterday. And we were saying, you know, it’s interesting how many times in conversations just in social conversation, if a man starts speaking and holding forth, right, everybody shuts everyone, right? Everyone shuts up and including myself, by the way, which I’m now as I say this very irritated with myself about that. But there is this sort of unspoken. Well, that makes sense that he’s bloviating, and, right?


Billie Jean King  39:37

That’s too big a word for me.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  39:40

But isn’t it a good? No, it’s not a good word, though. Doesn’t that totally describe what it is?


Billie Jean King  39:45

But here’s what happens in boards. A woman will have an idea she comes up with it, but until the guy says exactly the same thing she did. They go oh, Joe, that was a great idea, even though the woman’s right earlier, and they steal the idea is all the time and take credit for it.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  40:02

I mean, in in my own life, I mean, of course there’s misogyny.


Billie Jean King  40:06

In entertainment, it’s unbelievable.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  40:08

It’s unbelievable. And I had to struggle enormously, and really push back to try to get credit as producer on various projects I’ve worked on. And I got big time pushback, despite the fact that I had had decades, decades of experience.


Billie Jean King  40:28

Yeah, you’re in you truly were the producer of the show, one of the producers, at least of the show.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  40:32

Exactly. And I got pushback from studios from various other producers. I mean, it was a it’s infuriating. And it’s also sometimes it’s it’s just I’m not gonna lie. It’s intimidating. You know, because there is that little voice that says, oh, really should do I not deserve this. Am I wrong? In the asking, you know?


Billie Jean King  40:54

I hope you don’t get that that much anymore, that part.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  40:56

No, I don’t. I don’t, but it has been there.


Billie Jean King  40:59

Work how much you want? I mean, we’d say when in sports, I mean, you know, all the, in the awards, and, I mean, that you really have to suck it up. I suck it up all the time. I just. Because you can’t you just have to keep quiet. Because you’re not going to win. You know that too. There’s certain times you’ve got okay, I’m not gonna let this one go. I don’t like it. But I’m gonna have to let it go.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  41:24

We’ll get more wisdom from Billie Jean King after the super quick break. Stay tuned.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  41:41

Okay, let’s, let’s go back in time for a second for our listeners. So it’s 1973. That’s Roe V. Wade, and the Equal Rights Amendment era. And women are in a real fight for equality at this time. And you Billy Jean, you get approached by this guy, Bobby Riggs, who had been a good player back in the day, but at this point was really more of a showman, right? And he challenges you to an internationally televised match the battle of the sexes. And this is after he’d already beaten the formidable Margaret court. So you had to win. And people, you really have to understand how big this was. It was huge. And you played him. And thank God, Oh, my God, I am so happy you won that Billie Jean.


Billie Jean King  42:25

So am I, it was big. It was a huge turning point, really, because Title Nine had just been passed the year before, we were in our third year of women’s professional tennis, it was very crucial that I went because we had our tour. And I think if I’d lost I don’t know if the tour would have made it or not. Because it really helped enhance what we’re trying to do. Also men’s professional tennis was young, as well. The day after that match, you couldn’t get on the tennis court. That’s when we had the big tennis boom. That’s just for tennis, but for society. Finally, in 75, we are allowed to get a credit card on your own would be.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  43:02



Billie Jean King  43:04

But what it did is peaked the interest of people, both genders, or all all genders, we’d say now but then both genders men and women and women, it really helped their self confidence. I could not believe how they change, they would run up to me, thanking me, and then they go, you don’t want I’ve been wanting a raise for 10 years. And I finally have the courage to ask for it. You know, and I’d said well, more importantly, did you get it? And she said I did get it. Because girls are taught not to ask for what we want and need.  We are taught do not go there, okay. Do not ask. And they did.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  43:42

Well, there was a cultural shift because you won. And did you know did you keep in mind what was sort of on the line? Or did you have to sort of tuck that away and focus on the how did that work in your head as you’re actually playing?


Billie Jean King  43:56

I knew six weeks out and six weeks out I’m a mess. I’m thinking about all the consequences. I’m picturing myself running every ball down I’m picturing myself making every shot I’m picturing bad calls. I picture how I’m gonna react to that. I’m not gonna react I’m gonna stay I’m gonna get in the next point right away. I’m gonna stay focus. I’m not going to talk. I picture myself making every shot running every shutdown I picture much getting every servant everything and but also responding to things that aren’t great. I also go out the day before and meet all the security guards I meet all the administrators I meet everybody there and nothing is Astrodome, nothing’s worse than not is getting lost in an arena. I get to know everybody I went in the stands and went up to the top and the cheap seats to see what it would feel like as a fan. In other words, I totally prepare I really big on preparation. I think process is just how you win you stay in the now you stay in the present. Well, I know when you’re when you’re acting, aren’t you in the present?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  45:03



Billie Jean King  45:04

And when you don’t do well, we’re not.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  45:06

Right, in that sense. It’s like a meditation.


Billie Jean King  45:08



Julia Louis-Dreyfus  45:09

It’s just a singular focus, right?


Billie Jean King  45:11

Yes. If you talk to other people that are the best in what they do, it always comes down to being in the present. I call it in the now.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  45:21

Do you meditate? By the way?


Billie Jean King  45:23

I do meditate? Yes.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  45:24

Every day?


Billie Jean King  45:25

Probably, ueah, I think so. And I can meditate for 15 seconds even help. And even in a match, if you’re changing ends and you sit down. That’s a great time to meditate for 15, 20 seconds, you get about, you get 90 seconds. So take, take a part of that. And just meditate, just get just get your breathing down, get get, you know, here just be just be. And yes, I can do that. But I can compartmentalize very quickly, my brain goes very fast. I can compartmentalize really quickly, which I didn’t realize others couldn’t do, which I think has been a big help to me. I also knew that if I were going, this was going to be my life to try to make this world a better place. That I wouldn’t win as many titles. And I was willing not to win as many titles if off the court. If it would make the world a better place. That to me is winning more than ever winning a match like against Bobby Riggs.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  46:21

But by the way, you’ve done both. You’ve made the world a better place and you’ve won a gazillion titles.


Billie Jean King  46:27

I’m not finished yet.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  46:29

I know you’re not okay.


Billie Jean King  46:30

No, I’m kidding, kidding you.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  46:33

So it sounds like I mean, you are obviously an incredibly competitive person. And I certainly as a tennis player, but also as a business woman. And as a leader, you have a sense of let’s get it done. Let’s win this thing.


Billie Jean King  46:46

Yeah, right. Yes, you’re right. And to me, what does that mean? Creating opportunities for the generation now and the generations that will follow. That gives them opportunity, it gives them hope it gives them in men get scholarships, just helps them be a better player, a better person.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  47:03

Better human being.


Billie Jean King  47:04

Yeah, but good, because, you know, as an athlete, you’re you’re done early. So what are you gonna do with the rest of your life? Like singers can keep singing? You can keep working in comedy forever, forever, we know that at a very young age, we cannot do that, so what are we going to do? So those are the kinds of things we have to think about.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  47:22

Yeah, exactly. Which, by the way, leads me to this question that So this is from I have a niece who’s a d3 athlete and Emery she plays soccer.


Billie Jean King  47:32

Emery is great.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  47:32

Yes, great and I texted her, her name is Grace. And I texted her yesterday. And I said, Gracie, I’m talking to Billie Jean King tomorrow. And I said, Do you have any questions? And she said the following to your point, she said, what advice do you have for young athletes transitioning into the working world and leaving behind life as student athletes? Because you know, I think she feels, you know, sort of untethered without the sport that she’s been playing her whole life.


Billie Jean King  47:58

Well, there’s two things, okay? That she could think about, I can stay in soccer, but not play soccer. There’s 1000 jobs. That’s another great thing. There’s jobs all around your sport, if you want to stay in it. There’s three things that Ed Willard, and I, you know, our mentor at Willard, who’s the president Dupont, and CEO, and dear friend who just passed he, he, and I said that I need three things for graduations. But I need three things I can give them that’ll help them the rest of their lives. You know, I want to do this, I want this to make it simple, easy. The three things are and they do not have to be in this order. Relationships are everything. So while Gracie is playing soccer, meet as many people as you can get to know everyone really enjoy them as human beings get to know them because you never know. Okay, you just don’t know. And it’s fun. I think it’s fun. It’s fun well, I liked people, so works for me. But the second one to keep learning and to keep learning how to learn. Like technology for my age group is rough, okay. So I’m always asking my eight year old come over here help me? And then the third one is be a problem solver, and an innovator and that means in real life, and in work, or whatever you do. And those three things. I think, as I go through each day, I know I hit on those, at least one of them every day.


Billie Jean King  48:36

This is great wisdom, what you’re imparting I mean, for real.


Billie Jean King  49:27

Do you think that’ll help Gracie though? That’s why I didn’t know.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  49:30

I know, I really appreciate it. I’m going to tell her.


Billie Jean King  49:33

But being in a sport, she can stay in the sport and in different capacities she loves, like doesn’t want to leave soccer. , But more importantly, what else does she want to do? But those three things, I think will cover just about any direction she wants to go.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  49:49

Okay, so now listen, I want to ask you something. I’d like to know if there’s something you’d go back and tell yourself at 21?


Billie Jean King  49:57

Let me think or I was 21. Okay 21 right? For one Wimbledon and all that, I probably didn’t understand enough. At that time about being my authentic self, like, who am I? I didn’t know who I was yet. And nowadays, I think that’s the one great thing with today is that I think I would have had a chance, a bigger chance a better chance to be my authentic self, being a younger person today.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  50:24

Got it.


Billie Jean King  50:25

Not to say it wouldn’t be difficult.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  50:27



Billie Jean King  50:27

Or whatever, because we never know, I think trans people have a really hard time today. I think the LGBT community is having a harder time again, I don’t like it. I think that we should just be kind of good to each each other as human beings first, we all bleed red, doesn’t matter what color our skin is, doesn’t matter what. Yeah, how we I self identify sexually, it doesn’t matter that we beat that we just start I always think when I meet somebody that I think of it as I go blank, I try to go blank in my head to start with a blank piece of paper in a way before I start drawing who this person is, and that I really always want to think the best of them first. And then if they prove differently over time, then that’s a whole nother discussion but I think it’s really important to start out with this being kind and good to whoever you meet, and don’t have any preconceived ideas about them. And we’re all biased. But the important thing is do it gut check when we are I always go stop. Start with nothing first to speak kind of good, unless they prove to you that they’re just bad news or bad news but.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  51:44

Is there anything before we go? Is there anything that you want me to know about aging?


Billie Jean King  51:50

You know, what I found? I think aging has been in some ways, the greatest in some ways is tough, tough physically, there’s no question. And also your mind your you know, mentally, whether I don’t want to get dementia, for instance, I’m scared of that, because my parents had it. Things like that. But I’ll tell you, it’s really been fantastic. What and that is emotionally, I am so happy compared to the my young days. I cannot tell you, but but I’ve worked at it through therapy through thinking through just going through tough times. But I just emotionally am in such a great place now.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  52:29

Oh, my God.


Billie Jean King  52:31

I hope you are, too but I don’t know, wherever.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  52:33

I am, no, I am. I’m in a very, you know, Touchwood I’m in a very good place […] Yeah, am I totally am i but I’m so happy that you say that. And you’re not actually, you know, because on this show, we speak to older women about their wisdom. And that’s you’re not the first person who has said that there is something that you’re able to sort of sit comfortably in and let go of a lot at a certain age, which is a complete blessing, right?


Billie Jean King  53:02

Yes, and also, when you’re older, you have perspective that you didn’t have as a younger person. You have perspective, you’ve lived longer. Things don’t bother you as much. That’s why kids love their grandparents so much. Because a grandparent goes, yeah. And they say, oh my god, I gotta tell him this, but oh, my God, and then you tell them they go okay, and they go, yeah, you’re not on Saturday. No, are you okay? Whereas a parent, what is so yeah.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  53:30

A lot of hand wringing, yeah, that’s right. Yeah, completely.


Billie Jean King  53:33

They’re more understanding.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  53:34

It’s true, it’s completely true. I can’t thank you enough for talking with me today. I really enjoyed every second of this conversation, too.


Billie Jean King  53:41

It’s been great. I really appreciate it. Say how to write and tell your team of people. Because everything starts with team really, totally tell them thanks again for all their help. We really appreciate and good luck in your lives, go for it.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  53:55

Oh my god, Billie Jean King. That woman is just so impressive. That human is impressive. My mom is gonna love to hear about this one. It’s time to get her on a zoom call.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  54:16

Hi, Mommy.


Mommy  54:17

Hi love.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  54:18

How are you?


Mommy  54:19

Good, it’s rainy, rainy here. Is it raining there?


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  54:22

I wish no, it’s full sun. But we talked to Billie Jean King today.


Mommy  54:28

Uh huh, wow.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  54:30

And you would just love this woman Billie Jean King mom. It was just she is such a positive human being. Let’s talk about the Bobby Riggs match. Because you know, you originally wanted to have this match with her. Billie Jean King is obviously a serious professional athlete has no time for this bullshit match with Bobby Riggs. And then Margaret Court who was another professional tennis player. At the time, and she did play him and she lost. And so then, when Bobby Riggs came to Billie Jean and say, now I’m gonna beat you, Billie Jean King realize what was at stake here. She knew that what the symbolism of this match was political, and that she had to win it.


Mommy  55:21

I mean, it was sort of a joke match, you know, in many ways, and then it wasn’t because.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  55:26

Right, exactly, because she won.


Mommy  55:29

And, and then that it sort of humorous way it changed the the flow of history.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  55:36

Well, it did, didn’t it? I mean, she says that, generally speaking, women’s self confidence was lifted up in a way. And it’s funny because I think it really seeped into the wind really seeped into the culture in terms of feminism and women’s empowerment and sense of self.


Mommy  55:57

And he was such a braggadocio, and he was going to win, and he was going to win, and he was going to win. And, and that made it even more delicious, the fact that she just played the game.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  56:07

And she played him and killed him in three straight sets, and I asked her, does she feel equal to men? And she says she feels equal to men, but that the world doesn’t feel that way. What has been your experience as a woman in a world where men are in charge?


Mommy  56:27

But from my generation? I would say that one thing. In the beginning, I just went along with it. I mean, it just, I accepted that. And, you know, when I went to Duke, I went as a pre med. Well, all I had to do in the south at that time, in the 50s was say, I was going to go to med school and they’d say, no, women don’t go to med school. And I said, oh, okay. So I mean, that’s, that shows you that, that I was whatever they said was fine. And it’s it’s only I said to a friend of mine, one time that I think my generation was sort of sideswiped by, by feminism, the feminist movement. In other words, it sort of happened to us, we didn’t well, people like Billie Jean King made it happen. But but most of us were sort of living living with the reality of it, and sort of keeping, keeping our skills and our power to ourselves. So women with other women could be, do all kinds of things, but it let a man enter the room. And it was a very charged in different different atmosphere.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  57:37

And describe what that means, like, how is it charged? And how is it different?


Mommy  57:41

The women, the women were sort of the, the generators when they were together and talking. But if a man came in, there was a kind of a giving over. It’s like, oh, well, what we had to say, what do you have to say? What do you think that’s what’s really important? And then in so many instances, even now, in a room, it will be the men that what I mean, for a woman to be heard in a room sometimes even is is like, people sort of sit back and I mean, it’s, it’s sort of noticed, not so much now, maybe because, of course we’ve had


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  58:16

Maybe now mom, maybe now, I mean, I’m not. Yeah, I’m certainly aware of that, you know, I’m certainly aware of the fact that if, like in a in a writers room, for example. Male writers are much more comfortable taking charge and saying, what’s what, and speaking up in a way that women aren’t necessarily, I mean, I realized that’s a big generalization. Of course, it’s not always the case but it’s funny how it sort of that inequity has tiny little roots that have filtered into the culture in a way that is poisonous without our even realizing it.


Mommy  59:05

I think that’s really a wonderful way to put it. And you know, what’s interesting, is that when you get older, and I would say that there are more women now living longer than men. And they are taking charge. I mean, they they do they take charge, and they don’t think too much about it. I mean, it’s just like, I’ve sort of been waiting always I’ve always done this or I’ve been waiting to do this or they it’s within them as something that hasn’t always been tapped.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  59:35

And as they’ve just waiting for the guys to die and then they’re gonna.


Mommy  59:40

That’s one way did you know when that when that I’m excited about you? Having talked to Billie Jean King is because she truly was iconic is iconic. I mean, even figure that represents so much, right turning correct being and she she’s seemed to have that like a motor in her that was just going to go. Well, you know, she’s got the lifeforce in her. And I I say there’s a woman that has used it all of her life.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:00:10

All of her life and for the greater good, by the way.


Mommy  1:00:13

Well, thanks to her for you know, women getting paid in athletics now, thanks for getting looked up to in athletics.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:00:23

Of women in athletics period, even to you know, back in the day, the only professional sport women could play was golf.


Mommy  1:00:30

Yeah, right.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:00:31

That was it can play any sport professionally, ie be paid for it. And by the way, she loves that I call you Mommy. Because she calls her mom or call her mother’s passed away now but she called her mom mommy and her dad daddy, just like we do.


Mommy  1:00:50

I love that. There’s something so cozy about that, you know.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:00:53

That’s what I said to her. She says it’s like a giant hug.


Mommy  1:00:58

It is, it is and when and when you hear Mommy, you know like when you hear I don’t know what your boys call you.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:01:05

Mommy they call me mommy or mama.


Mommy  1:01:08

Yeah, guys. It’s just it’s too wonderful. It’s too wonderful. So yeah, keep it up for all for everything.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus  1:01:15

100% Mommy, I always will. Alright, Mama, I’m gonna say goodbye to you, I love you.


Mommy  1:01:20

Thank you, I love you too, honey.


CREDITS  1:01:31

There’s more Wiser Than Me with Lemonada Premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content from each episode of the show. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts. Make sure you’re following Wiser Than Me on social media. We’re on Instagram and Tiktok at @WiserThanMe, and we’re on Facebook at Wiser Than Me podcast. Wiser Than Me is a production of Lemonada Media. Created and hosted by me Julia Louie Dreyfus. This show is produced by Kryssy Pease, Jamela Zarha Williams, Alex McOwen, and Hoja Lopez. Brad Hall is a consulting producer, Rachel Neil is VP of new content and our SVP of weekly content and production is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Paula Kaplan, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me. The show is mixed by Johnny Vince Evans with engineering help from James Sparber. And our music was written by Henry Hall, who you can also find on Spotify or wherever you listen to your music. Special thanks to Will Schlegel, and of course, my mother Judith Bowles. Follow Wiser Than Me wherever you get your podcasts. And if there’s a wise old lady in your life, listen up.

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