Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today joined with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (NY-14) to introduce the Billie Jean King Congressional Gold Medal Act in the House of Representatives to award King the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her vast achievements and contributions to athletics, women’s rights, the LGBT community, and American culture.
“Billie Jean redefined the very role of women in both sports and American culture,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “The word icon is simply too small to capture the enormous impact she has had on not just tennis, not just on the United States, but on the 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.”
King, a native of Long Beach, CA, 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.
“Time and time again, Billie Jean King has broken barriers,” Congressman Crowley said. “Among the numerous accolades she has earned over the course of her career, the Congressional Gold Medal would formally recognize King’s leadership in the fight for equality and her achievements in making professional sports more accessible to all Americans, regardless of their gender or identity.”
The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the U.S. Congress to recognize an individual’s immense contributions to 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 award 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.“
“Billie Jean King is one of tennis’ all-time greatest champions, but more, she has used her platform of popularity to champion myriad important causes for the betterment of society as a whole," USTA President and Chairman Katrina Adams said. "She is a pioneer in the truest sense, a tireless crusader for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and social justice. She has devoted her life to leveling the playing field for all, and for that reason, the USTA wholeheartedly supports awarding this legendary champion and courageous crusader the Congressional Gold Medal.”
"Billie Jean King is a national treasure, and I cannot think of an individual more deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal. An accomplished athlete, Billie Jean has dedicated her career and her life to social justice and is a visionary for equality for all,” Women’s Sports Foundation CEO Deborah Antoine said. “Receiving the high honor of a Congressional Gold Medal would affirm what many of us already know about Billie Jean King, that she is a change agent, having advocated for all, especially women and the LGBT community both in athletics and our society.”
The legislation is endorsed by the American Association of University Women, Association of Title IX Administrators, Human Rights Campaign, Girls Inc., National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Council of Youth Sports, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Women’s Tennis Association, Women’s Sports Foundation, and United States Tennis Association.