Tennis legend Billie Jean King is serving up a powerful shot against an old opponent – arthritis.
King, 70, has osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease, which involves a breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. The condition affects about 27 million Americans. The tennis veteran, who won 39 Grand Slam titles in her career, has had osteoarthritis since her 20s and had both her knees replaced about 5 years ago. (I also had knee surgery about 7 years ago for a bucket tear in my meniscus, and when the doctor went in, he found I had a “65 year-old’s knees” due to arthritis. Crap.)
A few years ago she had the opportunity to be the spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation in a huge, multi-media campaign stressing the importance of exercise as a weapon against arthritis. Television, radio, outdoor and print ads conveyed an important message:
“Arthritis is common, costly, disabling and often thought to be a reality of the aging process that cannot be changed,” Arthritis Foundation Chief External Relations Officer Debra Neuman said in the news release. He adds. “Through this campaign we aim to educate people that you can change the trajectory of osteoarthritis and the impact it has on your life.”
“I decided to get involved with this campaign because I really believe in the message. Tennis is my weapon of choice against arthritis because it’s what I love to do the most as far as exercise. If you have arthritis, don’t think you should become sedentary. It’s just the opposite — think positively and make sure you keep moving. Take a walk in the park, play tennis, or take a hike. Do whatever works for you but keep moving. Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability.” — Billie Jean King
Wise words from the woman who defeated Bobby Riggs in their famous “Battle of the Sexes” match back in 1973, which took place right here in Houston.
Here’s one of the television commercials for the campaign:
That particular campaign may be over, but her fight against arthritis continues on a daily basis.
“Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it affects one in every five adults and 300,000 children each year. However, research released from the Ad Council shows that only 16 percent of people with arthritis actually feel confident that they know the best way to manage their pain. Most people think taking medication is the best treatment. I hope to educate and empower people to get physically active because it can change the course of your arthritis and your life.” — Billie Jean King
For more information about living with arthritis, visit The Arthritis Foundation.