Billie Jean King has changed so many lives of people she will likely never know directly. Before the “Battles of the Sexes” in 1973 when 55-year-old, and former men’s tennis professional, Bobby Riggs challenged any professional women’s tennis player to beat him in a televised and King took up the challenge and beat Riggs, we lived in the dark ages. Many still thought a man could beat a woman, no matter the age gap, in any sport. Billie Jean King changed opinions and proved logic to many who refused it.
But King didn’t just stop there. She was helped form the WTA so that female tennis players could have some say in how much they get paid. Thankfully, the US Open made a quick decision to have equal pay for the men’s and women’s winners of the last major of the year. Eventually, all the other Grand Slam events followed. This doesn’t happen without Billie Jean King.
Neither does Title IX which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. King has simply found a way to help millions of better she will never know. We should all be so lucky to do the same.
Billie Jean King is on the verge of breaking another glass ceiling
But now King might be on the verge of breaking yet another glass ceiling. An individual female athlete has never been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in the United States. That seems a bit shocking when one thinks of all the fantastic female athletes the United States has produced, and might also imply that we still have a long way to go as a society toward respecting female athletes as much as male players.
Three senators introduced a bill this week in the United States to honor King with the Congressional Gold Medal. Those senators include Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona), and Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia). While it’s obvious that all three senators are female, two of them represent states that tend to vote conservative, and if they have the backing of their constituents for the bill, maybe that is a sign that most people want equality.
The bill still has to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, but Gillibrand, Sinema, and Moore Capito are confident that before the end of the year, the bill will pass. Let’s hope it does.