Obama Presents Awards to Billie Jean King

On August 12, President Obama awarded tennis great Billie Jean King the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom. The winner of 20 Grand Slam tournaments, King was a dominant force in women’s tennis for over 20 years. A longtime champion for equailty, King is largely credited for helping achieve parity in prize money for women’s tennis championships. In 1973, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association and in the same year defeated male opponent Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match. King became one of the first openly lesbian major sports figures in America when she came out in 1981. Following her playing career, King became the first woman commissioner of a professional sports league when she co-founded and led the World Team Tennis (WTT) League. In 2006, New York’s National Tennis Center, home to the US Open was renamed the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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