Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) joined with 12 of his House colleagues to reintroduce the Billie Jean King Gold Medal Act, legislation which would award King the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her extensive accomplishments and contributions to athletics, women’s equality, the LGBTQ community, and American culture.
“The word icon is simply not enough to describe the tremendous impact Billie Jean King has had on not only tennis and the United States, but on the entire world,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “Throughout her life, her passion, her leadership, and her vision have redefined the role of women in both sports and American culture. She is a pioneer in athletics, a trailblazer in the fight for equality, a role model for women and the LGBTQ 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 professional tennis career, including a record 20 wins 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. In 2019, the new main library in downtown Long Beach was also named in honor of King.
“Billie Jean King is without a doubt a Long Beach legend and amazing activist committed to equity and fairness,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We named our new flagship library after her for exactly those reasons, and I am excited to see her considered for a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her life achievements.”
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,” Billie Jean King said. “I fully appreciate the importance and the significance of this honor and to be considered is a privilege.“
This legislation is supported by Equality California, Girls Incorporated, and the Human Rights Campaign.
“Billie Jean King embodies the word icon — sports icon, gender-equity icon, American icon and LGBTQ+ icon,” Equality California Executive Director-designate Tony Hoang said. “A proud daughter of Long Beach, California, Billie has used her platform to fight for gender equity and inspire generations of LGBTQ+ young people to be champions — on and off the court. We are proud to support Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s resolution to award Billie Jean King with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
The bill is cosponsored by Congress Members André Carson, Judy Chu, Luis Correa, Henry Cuellar, Sharice L. Davids, Raul Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jerry McNerney, Darren Soto, Juan Vargas, and John Yarmuth.