In time, the case was put on hold, and eventually dropped, after the state reversed course and agreed to allow girls to try out for boys’ teams. But though the result immediately opened new doors for young female athletes across the state, the payoff for Seldin herself was short-lived.
Christensen left the job before Seldin joined the team, and the new coach was much colder to her, she said, creating an environment where many of the boys taunted and mistreated her without repercussion.
Early in the season, the coach put the players through a brutal conditioning workout that involved crawling up a stairway while someone held their legs up in the air behind them. Seldin recalled that when she was doing the drill, the boy holding her up abruptly dropped her near the top of the stairs, causing her to tumble painfully back down on her chest.
“I ran home,” she said. “I was black and blue. And I told my mom, ‘I quit.’ So I never played.”
But tennis stayed in her life. Seldin went to college at Syracuse, where she became the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship from the school after reaching out to its chancellor, Melvin Eggers, and pressuring his administration. At 21, she became a certified professional.
“The case had given me the courage to go on and go further and fight for myself,” Seldin said.
Seldin, who lives on Cape Cod, Mass., still plays tennis, rumbling around on two reconstructed knees.
“I wore them both out,” she said, “but these titanium ones are excellent.”
As years passed, she watched as Ginsburg, the lawyer, ascended to the apex of her profession, and their long phone calls in the 1970s took on a new significance. Remembering the case filled her with a new sort of pride.
“I would always tell people, whether they believed me or not, ‘Hey, she was my lawyer,’” Seldin said. “I was so proud of that. I’d say, ‘Google me!’”