Billie Jean King to be Honored With Athlete Ally Action Award
New York (July 30, 2018) – Today, Athlete Ally announced that Billie Jean King will be honored at the Fifth Annual Athlete Ally Action Awards. Athlete Ally is a nonprofit organization focused on fostering inclusive athletic environments and mobilizing the athletic community to champion LGBTQ equality. The awards ceremony will take place October 6th at the New York Historical Society in New York City.
Throughout her incredibly successful career as a six-time World No. 1 ranked tennis player with 39 Grand Slam Titles, Billie Jean King’s mission has been to make sports more equitable and inclusive. Her advocacy led the U.S. Open to become the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to women and men, and she also helped ensure the passage of the federal Title IX law guaranteeing female athletes equal access to school sports. Her win against Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match set the record straight once and for all that every athlete deserves the same access and opportunities—a principle she has fought for throughout her career.
King knows firsthand both the struggle of living as a closeted LGBTQ athlete, and the tremendous power of living as an open and visible one. When she was outed in 1981 and was advised to deny her sexuality, she refused. In the years since, as the Founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, Women’s Sports Foundation and Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, and the co-Founder of World TeamTennis, she has worked tirelessly to champion gender and LGBTQ equality. In the words of President Barack Obama as he awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, her true legacy is her “off the court” activism and “what she did to broaden the reach of the game, to change how women athletes and women everywhere view themselves, and to give everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, a chance to compete both on the court and in life.”
Earlier this month, King stood with Athlete Ally in calling on the International Association of Athletics Federations to rescind its discriminatory policy targeting female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone. King’s support has been instrumental in calling out this injustice and paving the way for more inclusive policies.
“Billie Jean King is a beacon for athletes worldwide who deserve to celebrate what makes them unique, and not be held back because of it,” said Hudson Taylor, executive director of Athlete Ally. “Her determination to fight for equality and justice has transformed the world of sports—and the world as a whole—into a more equitable place for us all.”
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