US tennis legend Billie Jean King has revealed for the first time in a new memoir she and partner Ilana Kloss tied the knot in a secret, intimate wedding in 2018.
The 39-time Grand Slam and 20-time Wimbledon champion (above right) recounted the small, private ceremony in her new autobiography All In, according to Today. The book is out in the US next week.
After a few decades together, the 77-year-old revealed she married her former doubles partner, Ilana Kloss, in October 2018.
Former New York Mayor David Dinkins officiated the wedding in a small ceremony in his Manhattan apartment, King recalled.
Aside from the newlyweds and Dinkins, the only others who attended were Dinkins’ wife, Joyce, and an aide as a witness.
“Nobody threw rice or smashed wedding cake in the other’s face,” King writes.
“One of the brides wore jeans and a lovely red scarf. And the other had on a black shirt, a comfortable warm‑up suit, and pearls — ha! — a personal touch of glamour that Ilana still teases me about.”
The US Supreme Court finally legalised same-sex marriage in the US in 2015.
After the landmark ruling, King said she and Kloss saw “more and more” of their friends walking down the aisle.
“Elton [John] had run to the altar with David Furnish soon after same-sex marriage was legalized in the UK,” she wrote.
“He started nudging Ilana and me to consider it. He even offered to sing at our wedding if we’d take the plunge.”
King recalled fellow tennis star John McEnroe also goading her, “C’mon, Billie Jean! Why not get married? Wrap it up and put a bow on it already!”
Billie Jean King’s ‘conflicted feelings’ about institution of marriage
In the new memoir, Billie Jean King declares wife Ilana Kloss “the love of her life”.
However the athlete recalls her hesitancy about a wedding because of her “conflicted feelings” about the institution of marriage.
“Besides, Ilana and I already considered ourselves partners for life,” she said.
“We had worn each other’s rings for years. Why change anything?”
King explained that she and Kloss ultimately decided a wedding was a way to honour the hard work of same-sex marriage activists.
“We recognised that so many people had worked so hard to get the laws changed to give us the choice,” King wrote.
“Emotionally, we had arrived at a place where it became important to us to formalise our love for each other.
“I said to Ilana as we discussed it, ‘Years from now, I never want anyone to question how much I was committed to you.'”
King also quotes Kloss, who told a friend, “So much of our life has been public, keeping this private was something special we could hold on to, just for us.
“We didn’t need the world to know. It was just about Billie and me and how we felt.”
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