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Billie Jean King to receive Medal of Freedom

August 11, 2009 |  6:00 pm

Billiejeanking1 Billie Jean King Wednesday will be one of 16 people receiving the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. The White House ceremony is to begin shortly after noon PDT.

The Medal of Freedom is America's highest civilian honor and is, according to the White House news release, "awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

King grew up in Long Beach and attended Cal State L.A., where she played on the tennis team. Of course, she became a superstar, (click here to watch her in the finals of the 1971 U.S. Open) and is still the only woman to have won U.S. singles titles on all four surfaces (grass, clay, carpet and hard courts). She won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon. 

Being a champion was not enough for King. And it is how she championed gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life that helped lift her to this moment.

Women in sports, whether athletes or writers or coaches, can never thank her enough.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo credit: Stuart Ramson / Associated Press

 

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