Monday, April 06, 2009

The King and I

Had the extreme honor and thrill of running into the legendary Billie Jean King over the weekend at the airport in Phoenix while waiting for our much-delayed flight to Newark. I was a complete wreck -- she's BILLIE JEAN KING!!! -- but finally got up the nerve to approach her for the requisite photo-op. Before I knew it, I was mentioning my past experiences with her including my ball-boying duties for her Team Tennis league back in '83 (the Phoenix Sunsets), which spurred a lengthy conversation about Ann Kiyomura (she was hard of hearing so that's probably why I couldn't communicate with her), Pam Teeguarden ("saw her last week") and Terry Holladay ("big shot real estate broker in Southern California"), among others. (I really wanted to mention my more personal "connection" to her -- see HERE -- but wasn't able to.) Still, BJK couldn't have been any warmer, making a point of remembering my name and things I mentioned as the conversation progressed. She too was in AZ visiting her mother, in Prescott, only hers isn't doing very well healthwise. At one point I asked if she'd been in touch with Greer Stevens, to which she replied yes because her partner (Ilana Kloss), like Greer, is South African. (HELLO???? That's why I asked! Like I wasn't the treasurer of the Linky Boshoff Fan Club back in the 1970s!!!) (For those interested, Greer has had a battle with breast cancer and is back in Johannesburg.)

In fact, BJK told me she'd recently seen about 100 of the old players at an alumnae reunion celebration last month in Indian Wells that is shaping up to be an annual event. (Rosie Casals, Mima Jausovec, Diane Desfor and Tracy Austin were all there!!!) So excited by all of the information I was getting from her I finally said, "Someone should write a book about all the old players." She thought about it for a second before saying that nobody would buy something like that except a few "hard core" people like me. Then, as always, she quickly looked for a more positive spin on things and said that it would be a great idea for a Web site. Thanks for the chat and the suggestion, BJK! Note to the WTA: I'm available. All I need is a press pass to next year's alumnae reunion celebration and the rest will be history ...


Greg Hernandez said...

This is a great post Kenneth. I'm so glad you got to meet BJK! I would totally buy that book or bookmark that website on all the old players and hope you write it!

BW said...

Awesome. But she must have finally started slowly stepping backward when you declared, "I'm gonna be BETTINA BUNGE!"

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