Named one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century by Life and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, former tennis great Billie Jean King has just been announced as signature speaker for the 2013–2014 Ideas and Issues series. Presented by the Lively Arts, she will speak as part of Women’s History Month on Monday, March 31, 2014, starting at 8:00 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium.
King blazed trails for women everywhere in 1970 when she became one of nine players to break away from the tennis establishment and accept a one-dollar contract from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman to compete in the newly created Virginia Slims Series. The revolt led to the birth of women’s pro tennis and the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association.
In 1973, King produced one of the greatest moments in sports history when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. In 2008, she authored Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes to commemorate the 35th anniversary of that historic match.
In 1974, she cofounded World Team Tennis, the revolutionary co-ed professional tennis league, and the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments on and off the court.
If through words and deeds one person can truly make a difference for thousands of others in change-making ways, then that singular individual would be Billie Jean King. King is a pioneer for women’s equality and the advancement of women in sports.
Winning an astounding 39 Grand Slam titles in her career, King continues to make her mark as her enduring accomplishments reverberate far beyond the tennis courts. King has created new inroads for both genders in and out of sports throughout her legendary career.
Also appearing on the series will be the return of Christopher Beckman. A former Ralph Lauren model and now a successful artist and author, Beckman’s substance abuse, recovery, and homosexuality were tabloid fodder following his reality-show stint on MTV’s Real World Chicago when he was only 24. He will speak about his book, titled Clean, including issues of drug abuse, alcoholism, acceptance, and openness.
Beckman will speak on September 30, 2013, in the Ohio Room of the Hadley Union Building, starting at 6:00 p.m. It is being presented in collaboration with the Six O’Clock Series.
Ideas and Issues is funded by the Student Cooperative Association. Additional funding for King is being provided by the First Commonwealth Bank Endowed Lecture Fund. Additional funding for Beckman is being provided by the Office of Student Affairs and the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission, and by IUP Punxsutawney.
Tickets to both events are free and will be available approximately 30 days in advance. Those subscribing to other Lively Arts series will be able to order tickets over the coming weeks. More information is available by calling the Lively Arts at 724-357-ARTS (2787).