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Billie Jean King exhibit celebrates tennis icon and activist

The legacy of this champion of equal rights extends beyond the court.

The exhibit features photographs of Billie Jean King

The exhibit features photographs of Billie Jean King matches, including the 1972 French Open. Photo Credit: AELTC / Michael Cole

Athlete. Feminist. Icon.

It’s hard to find one word that describes Billie Jean King.

She’s a legendary tennis player who smashed stereotypes and the glass ceiling. She was a champion of equal rights for everyone. And she’s an LGBTQ activist who says it took years to feel comfortable with her own sexuality.

King turned 75 last month, and the New-York Historical Society is celebrating that milestone with a photography exhibit that highlights her remarkable life.

“There’s some wonderful images of her playing tennis, but we wanted people to know there is so much more to Billie Jean King than her championships — even though with 39 Grand Slams she is one of the greatest tennis players of all time,” said Marilyn Satin Kushner, co-curator of “Billie Jean King: The Road to 75.”

“The work she does for equal rights and gay rights and children’s rights to make the world a better place is such an important part of who she is,” said Kushner, curator and head of the museum’s Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections. “If you don’t know that side of her, you don’t really know her.”

Among the exhibit's 75 photos, there are images of King’s grand entrance into the Houston Astrodome for the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against Bobby Riggs; testifying before the U.S. Senate; and as Grand Marshal for the NYC Pride March earlier this year.

Kushner recounted how King spoke about being No. 1 in the sport at a young age, primarily so people would listen to what she had to say.

“She really used her platform,” said Kushner, who curated the show with Helen R. Russell, a researcher who has worked for King.


 

'Billie Jean King: The Road to 75' runs now through Jan. 27, 2019, at the New-York Historical Society | admission $21/adults, $16/seniors, $13 students and $6/ages 5-13 | 170 Central Park W., 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org

More exhibits to check out now in NYC

'Delacroix'

The first comprehensive retrospective of French painter Eugène Delacroix in North America is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show includes 150 paintings, drawings, prints and manuscripts. Through Jan. 6, 2019, metmuseum.org

'Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs'

Before he was an acclaimed director, Stanley Kubrick was a photographer. The Museum of the City of New York culled some of his shots for Look magazine from its own archives. Through Jan. 6, 2019, mcny.org

'Unseen Oceans'

Dive into the depths of the deep without getting wet at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit shows how researchers are using new technology to explore our mysterious waters. Through Aug. 18, 2019, amnh.org

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