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King, Billie Jean (b. 1943)  
 
page: 1  2  

In the somewhat more accepting climate of 1998, King finally came out openly, although her longtime partner does not wish to be identified. In 2000, as coach of the United States women's tennis team, Billie Jean King became the first openly lesbian coach of an Olympic team.

In 2006 the United States Tennis Association voted to name the National Tennis Center after King. In doing so, they chose to forego the sale of naming rights, which could have brought in an estimated six to ten million dollars, in favor of honoring King's leadership and achievements.

Sponsor Message.

At the dedication ceremony on August 28, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and tennis greats including Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, and Venus and Serena Williams praised King for her contributions to both sports and society. Evert commented that, as a teen starting out in professional tennis, she did not fully comprehend the women's movement, but, she said, "Billie Jean made me feel good about myself, worthy of myself . . . I was very lucky to come in right behind her."

For her part, King commented, "I'm so grateful and humbled by this, I still cannot believe it. So rarely are women thought of in this way, to get a name in sports, and for that I'm thrilled. This is for all the world, particularly for the underserved--women, people of color, the LGBT, the disabled."

On August 12, 2009, President Obama awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. In bestowing the award on King, Obama said that today "we honor what she calls 'all the off-the-court stuff'--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--including my two daughters--a chance to compete both on the court and in life. As Billie Jean once said, 'We should never, ever underestimate the human spirit.'"

Tina Gianoulis

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   Related Entries
  
social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

arts >> Overview:  Sports: Gay Male

While sports, at least on the major competitive level, may be the final closet for gay men, there have nevertheless been a number of gay male elite athletes.

arts >> Overview:  Sports: Lesbian

Although lesbians and athletics have long been identified with each other, lesbian athletes, despite great achievements, still face numerous obstacles.

arts >> Overview:  Sports: Transgender Issues

Fears and misconceptions about transgendered and intersexed athletes abound.

arts >> Navratilova, Martina

One of the greatest tennis players in history, Martina Navratilova has become an outspoken supporter of gay and lesbian rights.

social sciences >> Ride, Sally

Sally Ride made history as the first American woman in space when she flew as a mission specialist aboard Challenger in 1983; her lesbianism was not widely known until shortly after her death.


    Bibliography
   

"The Battle of the Sexes." Newsweek (September 21, 1998): 90-91.

Drucker, Joel. "The Once and Future King." Women's Sports and Fitness 14.8 (November-December 1992): 78-81.

Fleming, Anne Taylor. "The Battles of Billie Jean King." Women's Sports and Fitness n.s. 1.11 (September-October 1998): 130-138.

Jenkins, Sally. "Forty for the Ages: Billie Jean King." Sports Illustrated (September 19, 1994): 60-63.

Kaufman, Michelle. "Legend 'Humbled' by Tribute: Billie Jean King's Career as a Tennis Star and Activist Was Honored Monday When the National Tennis Center Was Renamed for Her." Knight Ridder Tribune Business News (August 29, 2006): 1.

King, Billie Jean, with Frank Deford. Billie Jean. New York: Viking, 1982.

Kort, Michele. "Billie Jean King." The Advocate No. 765 (August 18, 1998): 40-43.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: King, Billie Jean  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated August 13, 2009  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/king_bj.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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