MANCHESTER — The Boston Lobsters had the best attendance numbers the team has seen this summeras 1,740 fans packed the Joan Norton Tennis Center last night.
The turnout didn’t come as a big surprise. After all, everybody wants to see the King.
Billie Jean King was on hand to watch the Lobsters fall, 23-18, to the Washington Kastles. The living legend held a clinic for local tennis youths before the match, participated in a Q&A with announcer Steve Calechman during a break in play and signed autographs for fans, who welcomed King with a standing ovation before the match.
In an interview before play began, King discussed the future of Mylan WTT, what makes it so special and what she likes about the facility the Lobsters have set up at the Manchester Athletic Club.
“I must say of all the things I did in my life, this will be one of my greatest contributions,” said the 39-time Grand Slam Champion, who played at nearby Essex County Tennis Club when she was just 17. “When we drove in I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been here before.’”
During her brief Q&A with Calechman, King revealed interesting personal nuggets. Fans learned her favorite holiday is Thanksgiving; her favorite movie is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’; she drinks coffee, but only decaf; and that she’s watched Wimbledon with England’s Royal Couple, Kate and William.
As far as Mylan World TeamTennis is concerned, King has found the next generation of tennis greats to help bring the league into the future.
“We want to start getting younger players involved with the league because I’m going to be 70 this year. We asked (Andy) Roddick, and we asked Venus (Williams), and they both said yes right away,” said King. “They’re into it – their skin is in the game, so they aren’t just celebrity owners. I want them to shape the future because they’re the young ones. They’re the ones who know what’s going on with the younger folks and can shape this league’s future.”