US Open: President Clinton Talks With Inside Tennis About Serena Williams and Billie Jean King

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"She didn't give up": President Clinton embraces Serena Williams after she won her 17th Grand Slam title at the 2013 US Open. Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images.

After waiting 45 minutes and skirting past a mini-squadron of seven pleasant (but no-nonsense) Secret Service agents, Inside Tennis editor Bill Simons managed to briefly speak with President Clinton. This was the third time Simons had gotten an interview with the President. He spoke with Clinton thirteen years ago, when the President sat near John McEnroe in a luxury suite. A year later, in 2001, he chatted with Clinton right by the Royal Box at Wimbledon. There, Clinton compared American politics with Britain’s Parliamentary system.

Just outside of Clinton’s suite this year, in a back corridor, Simons had this brief exchange with Clinton about Serena Williams and Billie Jean King.

INSIDE TENNIS: President Clinton, what do you think Serena’s greatest quality is?

BILL CLINTON: Well, today it was that she didn’t give up.

IT: What is Billie Jean’s greatest quality—how has she transformed American society?

BC: That’s her greatest quality. You heard her say in her interview with Charlie Rose yesterday that even though she loved tennis, she always wanted to be someone who opened up new avenues for girls and women. And she was able to open new avenues for girls and women. She was able to play highly competitive, high concentration tennis, win, and always be concerned with why she was doing it. She’s a wonder.

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