Billie Jean King is not only known for her athletic talent, but the incredible shift she led in the world of tennis. During a time in which women were not given many opportunities to play professional tennis, King, in her mid-20s, arranged the Virginia Slims Tour and established the Women’s Tennis Association.
Considering the incomparable impact that King’s career created in the sport of tennis, it is only fitting to learn from her mentality. In a 2017 article by NPR, King provides insight into her thoughts, mindset, and actions, as she led a revolutionary movement that would change tennis forever. Reading this article led us to find several similarities between King’s mentality and the Pro Mindset® as described by veteran NFL agent Craig Domann. Let’s delve into the lessons we can learn from this comparison.
“So I said, Betty, lock the doors. Don’t let anybody out. We have to have this – we’re either going to have an association by the time this is over or we’re not.”
Billie Jean King had passion— a passion for tennis, and a passion for equal opportunities for male and female athletes. Even if it meant that she would have to push some of the other female tennis players outside of their comfort zone, she did whatever she had to do in order to establish the Women’s Tennis Association. That’s how much she cared about it. That’s how passionate she was about it.
While many could have thought of creating a women’s tennis association during that time, Billie was the only one that had the passion to make it a reality. Despite the pushback she received from others, including other female tennis players, Billie was ultimately able to create the Women’s Tennis Association because of the passion she had. Because of this passion, all of the criticism, pushback, and mockery became trivial in comparison to what she had her mind set on.
Passion is one of the seven keys to the Pro Mindset. Domann says, “If you don’t have passion for what you do, you’re not going to be very good at it.” In other words, having passion is crucial to achieving success, as exemplified by Billie Jean King.
“You know, I think I can beat Bobby. I think I’m better… You can try to psych me out all you want.”
In her renowned tennis match against Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King confidently said that she believed she could beat him. Despite the pressure of the match, representing much more than just the two players, King never lost the belief she had in herself. No matter who her opponent was, she entered each match with confidence that she could beat her opponent.
Craig Domann says belief is the “starting block of everything.” People can “smell” and “feel” if you have belief in yourself. Billie Jean King had a level of belief that anyone could sense. She didn’t just throw out empty words to build a façade of confidence. She was fully aware of not only her abilities, but also her opponent’s abilities. Even with this knowledge, she had complete belief that she would be crowned the victor of the “Battle of the Sexes.”
While many athletes have talent and skill, not all have left a significant impact throughout their careers. This is what sets Billie Jean King apart – not only did she have incredible talent and skill, but she also created a major impact within tennis; one that has paved the way for many legendary female tennis players we see today.
Two of the aspects of Billie Jean King’s mentality, passion and belief, are core facets of the Pro Mindset. To learn more about the Pro Mindset and how you can use it to build success in your own life, check out the Pro Mindset Podcast here.