Speaking at Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, where Billie Jean King was being recognized for her service to the LGBT community, Stone, who is portraying King in Sexes and introduced her at the event, recalled an ill-fated game of tennis she played with King.
“When I began preparing for the role, Billie invited me to play some tennis,” Stone, 27 told the audience. “Let me be clear about something, I was a complete novice, I’d had three lessons and she, on the other hand, is one of the greatest players of all time so, a fair match it was not.”
The actress said she “kept hitting clunkers,” and that at the height of her own frustration, the 72-year-old legend gave her some important advice: “forget the bad ones, focus on the next ball.”
For Stone, those words perfectly summarized how King lives her life.
“What I lacked in tennis skills I hope I made up for in my ability to connect with her essence and understand the greater lesson of what she was saying,” Stone said of King. “‘Let go of the negative, stay open and positive — the next ball might just be a good one.’ I feel like that’s something Billie has lived by her entire life.”
The ceremony was dedicated to the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting on June 12, the deadliest one in U.S. history. Musician Rachel Platten opened the show with a performance of her song “Stand By You,” as the names and pictures of every victim came up on the screens. It was an emotional night with nearly every presenter and honoree sending their support to Orlando and encouraging the LGBT community to remain visible and fight against the hate and discrimination that led to the attack at Pulse nightclub.
In her speech, Stone touched on how trailblazers like King help fight against just that and how they use their position to help oppressed communities.
“Even in the darkest times she was always looking forward, visualizing a bigger, brighter, more inclusive future,” Stone said of what makes King a trailblazer. “And not just for women, not just for the LGBT community, but for anyone who ever felt marginalized.”
Logo’s Trailblazer Honors will be simulcast on Logo and VH1 on Saturday, June 25 at 8 p.m.. Battle of the Sexes, which also stars Elisabeth Shue, Sarah Silverman and Alan Cumming, is scheduled for a 2017 release.