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Billie Jean King, US statement against Russia's anti-gay laws, won't be at Olympics in Sochi

Tennis legend forced to drop out of US delegation to be with her ill 91-year-old mother

Billie Jean King, one of the most famous lesbians in the world, will not be at Friday's opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The 70-year-old tennis legend, President Obama's high-profile appointment to the official US delegation, has decided to stay home to be with her ailing mother.

'It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this difficult time,' King said in a statement.

'I want to thank President Obama for including me in this historic mission and I look forward to supporting our athletes as they compete in Sochi.'

King's mother, Betty Moffitt, is 91 and lives in Arizona. Her brother is former Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Moffitt.

King was one of three high-profile gay athletes appointed to the delegation in what was seen as a statement against Russia's anti-gay laws. The others are US hockey player Caitlin Cahow and former Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano.

Cahow was originally scheduled for the closing ceremony but will take King's place at Friday's opening ceremony.

King had done numerous high-profile television interviews in the weeks leading up to the Olympics including appearances on The Colbert Report and NBC's The Today Show.

King was asked by ABC News what she would say to Putin should they have an encounter.

‘Please change this (anti-gay propaganda) law,’ she said. ‘Just be inclusive – champion everyone.’

She said of the participation of her, Boitano and Cahow: ‘Hopefully it will be a watershed moment because of gay rights and for the LGBT community – brings it to the forefront.'

‘It is the civil rights issue of the 21st century so I’m very proud to be openly gay,’ King also said.

Now 70, she retired from the pro tennis tour in 1983 – five years before tennis returned to the Olympics as an official sport.

‘For me personally, if I were still young enough to be going to the Olympics to perform, this (controversy over anti-gay law) would give me such high incentive,’ she also told ABC News. ‘I’d be crazed. I’d be like, “Let’s go!”'

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