Posts Tagged Wisdom

Billie Jean King Talks About Competition and Its Importance In Your Life

I talk to both boys and girls about being professional athletes…It’s a very high-risk endeavor. It’s easier to be a lawyer or a doctor. The percentage of people making it in professional sports is minute. For instance in women’s tennis or men’s tennis, about 150 out of the whole world in tennis can make a living, actually make a profit. Because it costs $100,000 just to break even. It costs a lot. I give them facts about realities, but never discourage them. I always say, “If you want to go for it, you go for it,” because over time competition takes care of itself. It just does.

And competition is important for young people. We’ve gotten in the mood that everybody deserves a trophy. No, children need to understand competition eventually. Not in the beginning, when they’re very young, but by the time they get to nine, ten, eleven they need to understand we’re going to have to compete, not only in the United States, we’ve got the whole world to compete with now, and sports is a microcosm of society. We used to have a lot of people in the top hundred from the United States. Got very few now. Why? The rest of the world caught up. The same in technology, they’ve gone ahead of us. It’s the way it is, kids. So, American kids: “Wake up, smell the coffee. You’ve got to compete. That’s life.”

(These are excerpts from the book Wisdom, created by Andrew Zuckerman. Billie Jean was the only sports talent of the 50 elderly celebrities mostly from the arts, political activism and government who were interviewed for this book, which was published by PQ Blackwell in association with Abrams, New York.)

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Words of Wisdom About Tennis and Life by Billie Jean King

Tennis taught me so many lessons in life. One of the things it taught me is that every ball that comes to me, I have to make a decision. I have to accept responsibility for the consequences every time I hit a ball. It also taught me about delayed gratification. No matter how you look or how much money you have, you still have to learn your craft, you have to hit a lot of balls, you have to train. There’s disciplines of life that you learn from tennis or other sports.

Another thing is that you learn to adapt. I have these two sayings, Champions adjust,” and “Pressure is a privilege.” Tennis teaches you about those things. When you’re playing a tennis match, you can’t say, “Stop, I want to do another take,” or “Can I play that over?” That’s the way sports are. They’re very real that way. So they teach you lessons in life, but the most important one is accepting responsibility. You have to make a decision, live with the consequences. That’s what tennis does with every ball that comes to me, and I just use my experience in tennis in everyday life now and it’s fabulous. It’s been a great journey to learn those lessons.

(These are excerpts from the book Wisdom, created by Andrew Zuckerman. Billie Jean was the only sports talent of the 50 elderly celebrities mostly from the arts, political activism and government who were interviewed for this book, which was published by PQ Blackwell in association with Abrams, New York.)

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