Geneva Anderson digs into art

Tennis Icon Billy Jean King visits Santa Rosa’s Schulz museum tomorrow, Sunday, January 15, 2012

Billy Jean King will speak at the Schulz Museum on Sunday, January 15, 2012 in conjunction with its “Leveling the Playing Field Exhibition” marking the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Charles M. Schulz standing with Billie Jean King at the Snoopy Cup tennis tournament in 1984 at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Photo: Cheryl Traendly Photography.

Famed former tennis pro Billie Jean King won six Wimbledon singles championships and four U.S. open titles.  She was ranked number one in the world for five years and beat esteemed players Martina Navratilova, Chris Every and Margaret Court.  Among all her matches though, the one most remembered occurred on September. 20, 1973, before a crowd of more than 30,000 at the Houston Astrodome, when she beat former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Bobby Riggs in a match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.”  King, then 29, beat the 55-year-old retired Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 who had boasted that he could beat any woman.  From that victory forward, King became synonymous with the battle for equality in sports.  Appropriately, King, a personal friend of the late Charles M. Schulz will participate in a moderated conversation and sign autographs speak at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center this Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 1 p.m. in conjunction with their Leveling the Playing Field exhibition of 86 original “Peanuts” strips by Schulz, celebrating women in sports and the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation that ensures equal access for both men and women in federally-funded educational programs and activities, including sports. 

Leveling the Playing Field features Schulz’s even-handed depiction of girls in sports through his  Peanuts comic strips and it also provides an overview of women’s sports history, and examples of women’s sports attire from the 1880s to the present.  The exhibition details Schulz’s connections in the world of women’s sports, his friendship with Billie Jean King, and his early years coaching a local women’s softball team.

After Schulz met Billie Jean King, he focused on the issue of females in sports with a multi-day storyline in 1979 about Title IX in his comic strip. Schulz brought attention to women athletes by mentioning contemporary female sports stars and having his girl characters participate in a wide variety of sports, from football to figure skating.  From Peppermint Patty’s athletic dominance to Lucy’s ineptitude in the right field to Marcie’s total bewilderment with sports of all kinds, the girls in Peanuts were always equal participants.

 In 1990 Schulz said, “I think Billie Jean King would certainly have to be in my top three as one of my heroes. She did so much for women’s sports.  And she’s such a bright lady and so involved in everything she’s done.”

Schulz died in 2000 after writing and drawing his comic strip for nearly 50 years.

Details: Leveling the Playing Field runs through August 12, 2012 at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa.  Museum admission: $5-$10; children 4 and under free.  Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.  Closed Tuesdays.  Information: 707.579.4452  or

Billie Jean King will participate in a moderated conversation and sign autographs starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, Sunday, January 15, 2012.  Seating is on a first come, first served basis, so plan on arriving early.

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Art | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment