WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) introduced legislation alongside Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) to award Billie Jean King the Congressional Gold Medal. A tennis legend in the United States, Billie Jean was also instrumental in the passage of Title IX and has used her platform to advocate for equality for female athletes. In 2009, she was the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Other original cosponsors include Reps. Mike Lawler (NY-17), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Lou Correa (CA-46), Mike Garcia (CA-27), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Young Kim (CA-39), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Michelle Steel (CA-45), Grace Meng (NY-06), Buddy Carter (GA-01), and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05).
“Billie Jean King is an incredible athlete and unmatched trailblazer for women and girls in sports,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Month, I am honored to introduce this legislation honoring her important accomplishments, and I thank Congresswoman Sherill for joining me in recognizing Billie Jean’s tireless advocacy for female athletes.”
“As one of the most celebrated athletes in history, Billie Jean King garnered the power to break barriers and fight for gender equality on and off the tennis court,” said Congresswoman Sherrill. “The Congressional Gold Medal serves as Congress' highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished service. Therefore, I am proud to co-lead this legislation with Congressman Fitzpatrick, which will make Billie Jean King the first female athlete to receive this recognition."
“This year marks 50 years since the U.S. Open became the first sporting event to offer equal prize money for men and women competitors. Billie Jean King’s tireless advocacy and example as a trailblazing female athlete helped make this happen. She is a role model for girls, women and all Americans,” said Congressman Lawler. “My daughter Julianna will grow up in a world with more opportunities for women thanks to trailblazers like Billie Jean King who helped pave the way for Title IX and a more equitable world. I’m a proud cosponsor of this legislation to award Billie Jean King the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of a life devoted to equal rights for all, in sports and in society.”
“Billie Jean King is an Icon for Long Beach, for the LGBTQ community, and for women everywhere.” said Congressman Garcia. "I could not be prouder to join the effort to recognize her incredible legacy by awarding her a Congressional Gold Medal. I look forward to partnering with her to continue to work for our communities.”
“Billie Jean King is not only a legendary tennis player, but she is a trailblazer who serves as an inspiration for so many women and girls in sports today,” said Congresswoman Malliotakis. “I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues in pushing to have her achievements and contributions to society formally honored by Congress.”
"I am honored to join my colleagues in recognizing Billie Jean King with the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Congresswoman Frankel, Chair of the Democratic Women's Caucus. “Billie is a truly inspirational figure, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, and a force in promoting gender equality and social justice."
“Billie Jean King was not only a prolific tennis player, but a leading advocate for gender equality and social justice,” said Congresswoman Velázquez. “I am proud to be an original cosponsor of legislation to award a congressional gold medal to Billie Jean King for her work on and off the court. Through her advocacy, she has helped make our country more just, and she deserves the highest award that Congress can give.”
“Billie Jean King is a powerful example of American women’s ability to change the world in every field,” said Congresswoman Steel. “During Women’s History Month, I am proud to support this legislation to award Ms. King, a Southern California native, with the Congressional Gold Medal for her remarkable contributions to the world of sports, to women around the world, and to the cause of equality for female athletes.”
“Billie Jean King is a trailblazer, a phenomenal tennis player, a fearless advocate for equal rights, and a true American role model. Her contributions to society as a tennis player, and more importantly as an advocate for gender equality makes her one of the most deserving people of the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Congresswoman Meng. “In Queens it is an honor to represent the site of the U.S. Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. As we close out Women’s History Month, I am proud to recognize Ms. King’s remarkable history and powerful dedication to equal rights with this prestigious award.”
“Billie Jean King is an amazing athlete who fought for equal rights for women,” said Congressman Carter. “A tennis legend, role model, and tireless advocate, Billie Jean King is more than deserving of this Congressional award.”
“Billie Jean King has been a trailblazing hero for women, girls, and athletes nationwide. Her courage has helped boost equality for female athletes and move our country forward,” said Congressman Gottheimer. “I’m honored to help introduce this bipartisan legislation to recognize this champion for her lifetime of achievements and her tireless fight for women’s rights.”
The resolution is also supported by the United States Tennis Association:
"There may be no athlete more deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal than Billie Jean King,” said Brian Hainline, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “Perhaps most impressive about her legacy is that her greatness on and off the court has not only inspired countless girls and women to also aim for their own greatness, but has pushed for them to be properly compensated for these efforts. Billie Jean King fought for equal prize money at the US Open 50 years ago, and that giant leap has become the norm in tennis. She continues to fight for equal opportunity and pay to this day, and has been more influential than any athlete in paving the way for countless females in their professions. As we celebrate 50 years of equal pay at the US Open, the time is perfect for Billie Jean King to become the first female athlete to be given the Congressional Gold Medal."
Read the text of the resolution HERE.