Congressman Lowenthal Introduces Billie Jean King Congressional Gold Medal Act to Honor Decades of Leadership

May 19, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with 17 of his House colleagues to introduce the Billie Jean King Gold Medal Act to award King the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her extensive accomplishments and contributions to athletics, women’s equality, the LGBT community, and American culture.

“Billie Jean King, through her passion, her leadership, and her vision, redefined the role of women in both sports and American culture,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “The word icon is simply not enough to describe the tremendous impact she has had on not only tennis and the United States, but on the entire world. She is a pioneer in athletics, a trailblazer in the fight for equality, a role model for women and the LGBT community, and an inspiration to every American. She has not only earned this honor--she deserves it for the ground she has broken and the paths that she has set.”

A native of Long Beach, CA, King won 39 major singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles tennis championships during her more than 30-year tennis career, including a record 20 at Wimbledon. She is also the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the non-profit Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, home of the U.S. Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, is named in her honor, as is the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Long Beach. Last year, the new main library in downtown Long Beach was also named in honor of King.

The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the U.S. Congress to recognize an individual’s monumental impact on American culture. Along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which King was awarded in 2009, the Congressional Gold Medal ranks as one the highest civilian awards in the country.

“I am so proud to be an American and it would be an amazing honor to receive the Congressional Gold Medal,” said King. “I fully appreciate the importance and the significance of this honor and to be considered is a privilege.“

This legislation is supported by the Women’s Sports Foundation, Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), Girls Incorporated, Equality CA, Human Rights Campaign, National Women's Law Center, Lambda Legal, National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

The bill is cosponsored by Congress Members Lou Correa, Jim Costa, TJ Cox, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Raúl Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Joe Kennedy, Carolyn Maloney, Sean Maloney, Barbara Lee, Mike Levin, Zoe Lofgren, Jerry McNerney, Grace Napolitano, Donna Shalala, Juan Vargas, and John Yarmuth.

Click here to see a full text of the bill.