Caitlin Clark ‘the reason’ for rise in interest in WNBA, Billie Jean King says

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Women’s tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King believes Caitlin Clark’s emergence in the WNBA represents a turning point for the league as more people are tuning in to watch the Indiana Fever rookie.

King wrote on X on Tuesday that she hoped the WNBA does not blow it when it comes to protecting their star. Clark was on the receiving end of a hard foul against the Chicago Sky on Saturday. The foul was initially ruled a common violation but was later upgraded to a flagrant-1.

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Billie Jean King attends the game between the Indiana Fever and the New York Liberty on May 18, 2024 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

“This generation is so important for the WNBA, you have to set an example,” King wrote. “Children are watching. How do you want to be remembered? This generation has a chance to set this league on fire. Don’t blow it with animosity. Do not blow it. Just play ball.”

She further explained her point in an interview with USA Today.

“As great as the WNBA has been, with amazing stars like Maya Moore, Sheryl Swoopes, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, among others, this year is a turning point, and it’s because of Caitlin,” she told the newspaper. “Breaking the college records, everyone wearing the No. 22 jerseys. Things are going good for the WNBA, for women’s sports. They are amazing for everyone with all these sellouts and all this interest, and we’ve got to keep that going now.

WNBA PLAYERS HATING ON CAITLIN CLARK IS EXACTLY WHAT THE LEAGUE NEEDS — COMMENTARY

Billie Jean-King at the Australian Open

Billie Jean King reacts during the semi-final on Day 12 of the 2024 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Jan. 25, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

“Whether you like it or not, Caitlin is the reason for so much of this interest. She’s a superstar. When she does well, everyone does better. The league is going to do better. The veterans were the building blocks and now Caitlin and this rookie class have this incredible platform to take the league to an entirely new place.”

King said when Chris Evert broke into tennis at 16, she was the one who told the veteran players to embrace the extra eyeballs on the game. She said she made sure Evert was treated fairly.

For now, the WNBA’s relationship with Clark is a TV talking point.

Caitlin Clark looks on

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, looks on during the game against the New York Liberty during the 2024 Commissioner’s Cup game on June 2, 2024 in Brooklyn, New York. (Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Clark will be back in action on Friday against the Washington Mystics.

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