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Franklin Johnson, Chairman of the Board and President of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park will be renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the opening ceremonies of the U.S. Open later this month.
&#8220I still am in shock,” King said on Friday, August 4, standing near her mother, Betty Moffitt. &#8220As a product of the public parks, I am so honored,” King added.
King thanked the USTA for the honor and called the renaming a special tribute to women and minorities.
&#8220I still can't believe it,” she said, her eyes shining with tears. &#8220So rarely are women thought of in this way.”
Last month, the USTA Board voted unanimously for the name change in honor of the four-time U.S. Open champion and openly gay player, who also was a trailblazer for equal prize money for women.
&#8220Her success on the court really did inspire generations of players and fans,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg also credited the USTA for choosing to rename the center after the tennis legend instead of putting the name up to a bid - which could have netted between $4 and $5 million annually, according to published reports.
Johnson said that he suggested renaming the center for King in March and was met with wide acceptance from the Board.
&#8220Billie Jean King is one of tennis' greatest heroes,” Johnson said. &#8220Much like Arthur Ashe, for whom our showcase stadium is named, Billie Jean is a champion not only of sport, but a champion of those causes in which she so strongly believes.”
King's name will be added to the Tennis Center on August 28, but the main arena will remain the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The USTA renamed the stadium nine years ago posthumously after Ashe, who was the first black man to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.
King said she was honored for her name to be placed alongside Ashe's.
&#8220Arthur and I are now side-by-side, and we're both public-park kids,” she said. &#8220We were born the same year, and we fought for human rights.”
In February 1999, King was given the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for her work to bring equality to women’s sports.
King won 67 professional and 37 amateur singles titles during her career. She also was involved in the founding of the Virginia Slims Tour, the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sports Foundation and World Team Tennis.
King may be most famous, however, for her 1973 defeat of Bobby Riggs during the “Battle of the Sexes.”


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