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Tennis legend Billie Jean King married partner in secret after 40 years together

Lily Wakefield August 15, 2021
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Billie Jean King wedding

Billie Jean King speaks onstage during The 2019 ESPYs at Microsoft Theater in 2019. (Getty/ Kevin Winter)

Tennis icon Billie Jean King has revealed that she secretly married her partner and former doubles partner Ilana Kloss three years ago.

King and Kloss have been together for more than 40 years, but as far as anyone knew they had not tied the knot.

However, in her upcoming memoir All In, King reveals that they did in fact get married, and that their 2018 wedding was officiated former New York City mayor David Dinkins, according to People

The 77-year-old former tennis player told the magazine that only three other people knew about their wedding held at the former mayor’s Manhattan apartment: Dinkins, his wife, and an aide that acted as a witness.

King wrote in her memoir: “Nobody threw rice or smashed wedding cake in the other’s face.

“One of the brides wore jeans and a lovely red scarf and the other had on a black shirt, a comfortable warm‑up suit, and pearls — ha! — a personal touch of glamour that Ilana still teases me about.”

“So much of our life has been public, keeping this private was something special we could hold on to, just for us,” she said.

King said that they decided to finally get married, after years of nudging from friends, because she “had a big problem with trusting and it meant a lot to show my trust in Ilana”.

Although she “felt very married to Ilana, whether I had a piece of paper or not”, she added: “Years from now, I never want anyone to question how much I was committed to you.”

Billie Jean King believes sexuality is a ‘fluid continuum’

Billie Jean King also told People that after decades of self-reflection, she has come to the conclusion that sexuality is “a continuum”.

King was married to her husband Larry King for 22 years, and came out as gay when she was 51.

“You’re finding your truth, and it doesn’t have to stay the same,” she said.

“I only liked guys when I was young. I didn’t think about girls. And then all of a sudden I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what’s happening?’ My truth was changing over time. It took me forever.”

Now, King said society’s attitude towards sexual orientation is the healthiest “it’s ever been”.

She continued: “Kids today, because the environment is different, if you want to say, ‘I’m bi‘ or ‘I’m gay’, or whatever, they can find someone to say, ‘Okay, that’s good!’ And it does evolve.

“We’re all much more fluid in our sexuality than we realise. You can fall in love with somebody no matter what their sexuality is.

“It’s much healthier today than it’s ever been and hopefully it will continue.”

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