Tennis Icon Billie Jean King Didn’t Play for 20 Years. Here’s What … – The Messenger

Billie Jean King, once the No. 1 tennis player in the world, hadn’t played the sport for about 20 years. 

It was during COVID-19 quarantine that her wife, former No. 1-ranked doubles tennis player Ilana Kloss, suggested the two go out and hit a few balls. 

“She said to me, ‘Why don’t we go out and hit? You love tennis so much. What’s the worst that could happen?’” King tells The Messenger. “The first ball I hit, I’m so thrilled. I love the feeling and the magic of it and the sound. I love tennis.” 

She was back. 

“It was a long time. It was too long,” King, 79, says. “I don’t know why, because I love it so much.” 

Though most folks can’t put “internationally-renowned athlete” on their resumes, many can relate to the idea of wanting to get back into a sport they loved when they were younger, but not knowing where to start. 

King, who turns 80 next month and is currently promoting getting up-to-date vaccinations for Moderna this fall, shares some tips for getting back into exercise and staying fit, regardless of age

Try lifting weights

“As you age, it [makes] you change whether you like it or not,” King says. “You’re slower, you’re not as quick, you’re not as strong, usually. That’s why lifting and doing things to keep strong is really important as we get older.” 

Studies have shown multiple benefits of lifting weights for seniors, including improved mental agility, mobility and protection against more serious injuries from falls. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends adults 65 and older get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, five days a week, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity such as hiking or jogging. They also recommend strength training two days a week and focusing on activities to improve balance, like standing on one foot. 

Workouts don’t have to be expensive 

For some, getting back into working out can be intimidating when surrounded by others in a gym or group class. Are they looking at me? Are they judging me? 

If at-home or solo workouts feel more comfortable, King suggests looking into free workout videos, like dancing or yoga. 

“There’s all kinds of things,” she says. “Know what your personality is like. That’s the most important thing. Do you like to be isolated? Do you like to be with others?” 

If you have the extra cash to be able to afford a trainer, having that accountability can be a helpful option. But don’t sweat it if not, King notes. Growing up, she was a regular at her local YMCA in Long Beach, California, and is still a big proponent of free and accessible recreational spaces. 

“Without Long Beach and the people there, my brother [former MLB pitcher Randy Moffitt] and I would not have been professional athletes,” King says. 

Make regular workout plans with a partner

King and Kloss now play tennis two or three days a week, even on the road when King is traveling for myriad work ventures. And she’s had a busy few months: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Sexes, launching a new professional women’s hockey league, presenting Coco Gauff with her trophy at the 2023 U.S. Open, sitting next to Princess Catherine at Wimbledon and on Wednesday night, getting unmasked on The Masked Singer. 

“I think it’s important,” King says of staying active even during busy times. The couple will seek out local courts, regardless of how upscale they may or may not be. 

“We don’t care what shape [the court is] in,” King adds. “I grew up as a rec park kid. Free access, very adaptable. I have this saying that champions adjust and pressure is a privilege.”  

If your personality veers more toward social athletic outings, she recommends talking to friends, loved ones or folks in your community about taking advantage of local exercise classes, clubs or spaces together. 

“What sports do is [help you] meet people. It’s not just a sport, it’s the people you meet through sports that change everything,” King says. “I’m so glad that Ilana asked me to play again.” 

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Marc Valldeperez

Soy el administrador de y también un redactor deportivo. Apasionado por el deporte y su historia. Fanático de todas las disciplinas, especialmente el fútbol, el boxeo y las MMA. Encargado de escribir previas de muchos deportes, como boxeo, fútbol, NBA, deportes de motor y otros.

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