Listeners will hear from Billie Jean King as she explains her decision with eight other women to demand equality for female tennis players

By Lindsay Kimble
November 18, 2020 12:10 PM
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Billie Jean King
| Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty

In 1970, the bravery of nine women forever changed tennis — and, arguably, professional sports as a whole.

The trailblazing female athletes — now dubbed the "Original Nine" — signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, publisher of World Tennis Magazine, to compete independently of the men, at the $7,500 Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston.

The players — including Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Judy Tegart Dalton, Kerry Melville Reid, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Julie Heldman and Peaches Bartkowicz — will have their story told in a new format for Audible's new audio documentary The Dollar Rebellion.

King, now 76, wrote and performed the documentary, and discusses what she calls the "act of courage" to take a stand for women's equality.

"The dollar rebellion: this is the birth of women's professional tennis. There are three basic things that were our dream and vision for future generations," King tells PEOPLE ahead of the doc's Nov. 19 launch. "And that is number one: any girl born in the world will really have a place to play at the top. Number two: that she would be appreciated for her accomplishments, not only her looks. And number three: she would be able to make a living."

The move, King tells PEOPLE, was a risk the women weren't scared to make: "We knew we probably would get suspended and maybe never get to play again for the rest of our lives. We didn't care."

Luckily, it was a success, and three years later, the Women's Tennis Association was founded by King to promote equality in sports.

Now, with five decades gone by, King says the Original Nine's story is more important than ever.

"I'm hoping that people who listen to me, particularly young people who are activists, will learn from me, that it will give them courage, give them hope and help them believe in themselves because I really believe that the Gen-Zs and the Millennials are fantastic," King says. "They are the first generations to have cared so deeply about equal opportunity, equality with Black Lives Matter, all these things you can get back to different acts of courage by different people. And this is our contribution to that."

She continues, "And [The Dollar Rebellion] is an example because it's really important that you read or hear about history."

King — who also touches on her experiences as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and discusses inequalities across gender and race in the documentary — tells PEOPLE she wants to "inspire people" to "make a difference in the day for the future generations."

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Audible Original The Dollar Rebellion will debut on November 19 exclusively on Audible within the Audible Plus catalog.