31 APA Athletes in 31 Days: JEANETTE LEE
Considered by many to be the G.O.A.T. of women’s billiards, the “Black Widow” is the most recognizable contemporary pool player in the world. She revolutionized the women’s game. Lee’s rise to world no. 1 on the WPBA Classic Tour was one of the quickest ever. After boldly declaring her intention to be world no. 1 in 1993, she won three WPBA tour events in the year, and then the U.S. Open 9-Ball Championship and WPBA Nationals in 1994. The wins sealed her #1 rank and earned her 1994 Player of the Year honors.
Born of Korean ancestry in Brooklyn, NY, Jeanette Lee has lived with scoliosis all her life, has had multiple back and neck surgeries, and had to overcome constant pain to compete. Lee told her story via CNN in 2016 (link in comments). So to recap, the Black Widow discovered pool at 18 while being a delinquent, went pro at 21, and then became world champion at 23. That did escalate very quickly. In 2013, Jeanette Lee was inducted into the WPBA and Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.
Nicknamed “Black Widow” by friends, Lee was known to “eat people alive” at the pool table despite her generally sweet demeanor. She reshaped women’s pool by how she marketed herself as both a sex symbol and champion. She became an icon, creating a viable path toward a sustainable career in the women’s game, and carving a path that future women players could follow.
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