‘I was double your age when we played!’ Bille Jean King slaps down Austin over tennis quip

Billie Jean King and Tracy Austin recall playing against each other

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Billie Jean King and Tracy Austin appeared as panellists to discuss the chances of the last eight female contenders to win Wimbledon this year. The former tennis superstars were discussing the chances of Coco Gauff becoming world number one in the coming years, a scenario both noted could become true. As they discussed Gauff’s chances, Austin reminded Billie Jean King they had faced off twice on centre court at very different stages of their careers.

Austin said: “I played you twice on centre court, Billie.”

King replied: “I think you beat me though, didn’t you?”

The former tennis number one noted they had each secured a win against the other, with Ms Austin noting she had been only a teenager when she beat her: “I won once and I lost once. I was 16, 17 so…”

Which prompted King to quip back: “Oh, I was more than twice your age when we played. How about that?”

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The pair faced off twice at Wimbledon, first in 1979 where 17-year-old Austin beat 36-year-old King 6-4,6-7, 7-2.

Austin and King later met again in London in 1982 but the 39-times Grand Slam winner came on top.

Gauff was ultimately knocked out of Wimbledon on Monday after losing to Germany’s former champion Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-4 in a Centre Court battle of the generations.

Britain’s chances of seeing its own female tennis champion succeed at Wimbledon were also dashed on Monday after wildcard Emma Raducanu was forced to withdraw from the competition.

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Austin suggested the “moment became too large” for Radecanu after a sudden spike in attention following her successful run through the early stages of Wimbledon.

She said: “I think the moment just became too large. When you go back a week, she was really an obscurity.

“Nobody beside intel Brits knew who Emma Raducanu was – I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t know how to say her name last week.

“She wins three matches as a wild card and she’s played so well. She played the first time ever on court one and she even said she played above her level.”

She added: “Now, all of a sudden she has a day off, she’s all over the papers. 

All the expectations and what’s in front of her now is the fairytale is still going on but now she’s got a winnable match in the fourth round and it’s too good to be true for both of them.”

BBC 2 Wimbledon coverage host Sue Barker said: “Raducanu received medical attention before leaving the court and a message was later relayed to the umpire that she was unable to continue, the reason given was that she had breathing difficulties.

“It was very difficult to watch and a sad end for Emma Raducanu. We haven’t heard anything, we’ve had no official statement from Emma or her team. It was just a sad way to end.

“We don’t know the reason, whether it was a medical condition and if so we wish her a very speedy recovery.

“Whether it was the occasion that got to her, either way that can’t be helped.”

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