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Billie Jean King, Feminist

Parable of the Three Doors

The first door’s locked. Deadbolts everywhere, a not yet discernible voice inside. I couldn’t get a closet deep enough. I’ve got a homophobic family, a tour that will die if I come out, the world is homophobic and, yeah, I was homophobic.  The second door’s a ceiling. The Houston Astrodome, the stars. Some call it Title IX.  King still wakes up nervous, then realizes she won. “I thought it would set us back fifty years if I did not win that match.” An athletic and creative strategist who knew the value of taking risks—her aggressive serve and volley style had won her 11 grand slams–King decided the day of the match to slowball Riggs, run him as much as possible. DON’T DO THAT! THAT’S CRAZY! Riggs jumps over the net, shakes her hand: “I really underestimated you.” The third door is opening, open.  The third door is closing, closed.  You try to open it.  Someone else tries to open it.  Before the law stands a doorkeeper.  She shakes your hand: “Hi, I’m Billie Jean King.”  Who is it speaks next? What do they say? How can we open more doors?

Artist Bio: “With my paintings, “Christina Tarkoff writes, “I try to tell stories that cross traditional barriers such as gender, age, income, education & race to help us understand the most important art of all — the art of being human.” You can learn more about Christina and her award-winning artwork on her website.

“Billie Jean King” was originally published as one of seven tennis portraits in Another Chicago Review.

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