I Met Billie Jean King!

By Amanda Thomson

With Billie Jean King at EY

Palm Springs eternal...

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected as an EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Europe this year. I’m pretty excited about this program, which launched in 2008 with the aim to help women entrepreneurs think big and rapidly grow their businesses.

So what was involved?

Flying to Palm Springs for a start (I know…!). With the UK icing up underneath the season’s first frosts, blue skies and the promised palms were a welcome sight. But what was truly inspirational was the energy. The US and its much-vaunted dream is hardly a secret, but it was an adrenaline high to receive such a positive reaction to my business. “Now that’s a ‘wow’!” was a typical reaction to Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco.

I was also given the opportunity to listen to incredible keynote speaker former United States Secretary of State Dr Madeleine Albright. She spoke about the importance of embracing diversity and democratic principles, and declared, ‘there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”.

"Relationships are everything..."

I even got to rub shoulders with a personal heroine. I adore tennis, and grew up listening to my feminist mother’s tales of Battle of the Sexes. Billie Jean King is feisty and funny, and her main pieces of advice really resonated.

When we spoke she told me "relationships are everything.  Never stop learning and always be a problem solver." (#rulestoliveby)

Boys are taught to be brave. Girls are taught to be perfect. As parents, promise to teach your sons and daughters the same way and not perpetuate socialised inequality.

The movie...

The film version of her 1973 tennis match against Bobby Riggs became the most watched televised sports event of all time. While her husband was urging her to fight for equal pay, Billie Jean King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality. 

I've not seen it yet but I feel honoured to have met this extraordinary woman.

I was high-fiving fellow guests...

I’m now back in the UK, and and even louder and prouder in my mission to take labelling transparency global. We all deserve to know what we’re drinking, and there is no legal requirement most of the world over to list the ingredients in wine. 

There was something so refreshing being around people who wanted to lift me up, rather than tell me things can’t be done.

It was pretty intoxicating and I even found myself high-fiveing fellow entrepreneurs, mindful that I would have to tone this excitement right down when I got back to Britain.

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