Former tennis great Billie Jean King, named one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has been announced as signature speaker for the 2013-14 Ideas and Issues series at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Presented by the Lively Arts, she will speak as part of Women’s History Month on March 31, 2014, at 8 p.m. in Fisher Auditorium.
King blazed trails for women in 1970 when she became one of nine players to break away from the tennis establishment and accept a $1 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 took part in a landmark match when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes at the Houston Astrodome. In 2008, she wrote “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 co-founded 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. King has long been a pioneer for women’s equality and the advancement of women in sports.
King won 39 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles in her career, and she continues to make her mark beyond the tennis courts.
Christopher Beckman will also appear on the series. 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 Sept. 30 in the Ohio Room of the Hadley Union Building at 6 p.m. It is being presented in collaboration with the 6 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 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 at iup.edu/livelyarts or by calling the Lively Arts at (724) 357-2787.