Thursday, November 19, 2009

Billie Jean King wins Presidential Medal of Freedom for Advancing Gender Equality

(Photo Credit: UPI) 

Billie Jean King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama at the White House on August 12, 2009, together with 16 other outstanding citizens. 

The Medal of Freedom is designed to recognize individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Billie Jean King spent a lifetime in tennis, sports and beyond, at home and around the world, championing gender equality issues and making measurable real-life progress in an imperfect world towards that goal. The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open in New York, is named after her. 

The citation reads:

"Through her example and advocacy, Billie Jean Moffitt King has advanced the struggle for greater gender equality around the world. In an age of male-dominated sports, her pioneering journey took her from Long Beach, California, to the lawns of All England Club and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Her athletic acumen is matched only by her unwavering defense of equal rights. With Billie Jean King pushing us, the road ahead will be smoother for women, the future will be brighter for LGBT Americans, and our nation's commitment to equality will be stronger for all."

President Obama said, referring to the all of the winners: "Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive."

Speaking with reference to Billie Jean, the President added: "We honor... what she did to broaden the reach of the game, to change how women athletes and women everywhere view themselves, and to give everyone - including my two daughters - a chance to compete both on the court and in life."

Congrats Billie Jean! Well done!


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