Billie Jean in '72: Our first tennis profile

With her salty language and fierce play, "the old lady" of the court helped start a great tradition of tennis champ profiles on 60 Minutes

This Sunday, Bob Simon profiles the number one tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, as part of a long-running tradition here at 60 Minutes. You might call it Profiles in Tennis. Since the broadcast started in 1968, our tennis champ subjects have included Ilie Nastase in 1976, Arthur Ashe in 1979, Martina Navratilova in 1982, Boris Becker in 1986, John McEnroe in 1988, Andre Agassi in 1995, and Venus Williams in 1997.

Our tennis habit may have started because the show's founder Don Hewitt and correspondent Mike Wallace were avid players and obsessive fans of the game. Or it may have started simply because the sport reliably provides us with a great cast of oddball characters to interview. Take, for example, our first tennis profile: Billie Jean King in 1972.

At the age of 28, the "old lady" of tennis turned out to be as candid in her interview as she was on the courts. As you'll see in this week's Rewind, King's play is accompanied by her constant muttering, cursing, and ruthless commentary about her own performance. "Get this one. Come on, baby, come on," she says aloud to herself during one game. "Hold on to your racket. No more mistakes like that. Every ball in play, dummy. Come on!"

We agree wholeheartedly with B.J. when she told Morley Safer: "I must be the toughest little old lady that ever lived when they see me play tennis."

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