This weekend was really a standout moment for me as I got to meet the likes of Tennis Greats Rosie Casals, Pam Shriver, & Mary Carillo at the Billie Jean King and friends event.
This annual event starts saturday morning with a clinic hosted by Cal State LA Athletics womens tennis and was open to the public. The first half of the clinic was a teaching session with under-privileged kids from the East LA Boys and Girls Club. They were taught how to hold the racquet and played games and learned to hit the ball. Adults from the general public were also hitting on another set of courts and given some tips from the women’s tennis team roster.
A highlight for me was getting a quick oncourt video interview with Rosie Casals and Mary Carillo! They were both so lovely and very accomodating! (watch for these videos in an upcoming Tennisopolis TV show)
After the clinic time, adult players were paired with the womens tennis team and exhibition matches took place. Imagine getting to hit with these amazing girls!
The evening festivities were at the prestigious Langham hotel in Pasadena, CA (formerly the four seasons) and was a sold out affair. While many were mingling and enjoying the bar, I was blessed to be invited to the private audience of the 3 tennis greats speaking directly and privately to the CSULA women’s tennis team. In a small conference room behind the ballroom, Rosie, Pam and Mary shared some of their life experiences and the greatness of Billie Jean King. The spoke of the fight to have equal pay and the fight with Jack Kramer. They shared about their private victories and the pressure the had to endure to continue winning. Then in question and answer style, the tennis icons talked about techniques for winning, fitness, and making a mark on the world. It was so incredibly inspiring! One of the best moments was Mary Carillo imitating Steffi Graff and how she might have been encouraging a doubles partner in full german accent!
The Dinner, Awards, and Auction were so enjoyable in most part thanks to Pam Shriver and Mary Carillo being such animated hosts and sharing personal stories of Billie Jean as well as their quick wit and banter. All in all it was a night I will treasure as I got to rub shoulders and even give hugs to these wonder women of tennis!