As The U.S. Open Kicks Off, We’re Thankful For Billie Jean King
The U.S. Open kicked off Monday, and we think it’s the perfect occasion to pay respect to tennis champion and three-time Open winner Billie Jean King’s activism. Like Ryan Reynolds, Nina Dobrev, and Rihanna who put their time and money where their mouths are, King leveraged her celebrity to advocate for issues, most memorably for equal pay for women and LGBTQ rights.
Billie Jean King’s Activism Nets Equal Pay For Women
Before 1973, the U.S. Open awarded male players more prize money than female players. Thanks to King’s direct and fearless advocacy, the U.S. Open awarded men and women equal prize money, inspiring other equal pay campaigns inside and outside. The tennis community showed their gratitude to King in 2006, renaming the spot that hosts the U.S. Open the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in her honor. (Not a bad way to say Thanks!)
King’s Own Story Inspired LGBTQ Movement-Building
King was the first female athlete to come out as a lesbian in 1981. While it was a tumultuous experience, she found her voice as an LGBTQ advocate and eventually served as acting director for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National AIDS Fund. She repeatedly speaks out against homophobia and was an advocate for marriage equality.
Lasting Legacy Of Activism: The Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
The sports legend could easily rest on her laurels and let the next generation of athletes carry the torch. Instead, she created the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a leadership and diversity not-for-profit, in 2014. The BJKLI confronts the critical issues like race, sexuality and gender to achieve inclusive leadership in sports and business. In addition to the Initiative, King continues to educate on the issues of equal pay and civil rights, as well as lead World Team Tennis, the league where women and men compete on the same teams together.
Are you inspired by Billie Jean King? Find opportunities to plug into humanitarian causes on ThatHelps’ app and share your gratitude to others!