Billie Jean King, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, is part of the delegation that will be representing the US at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
King, 70, is not only one of the world’s most famous athletes, she’s also one of the world’s most famous lesbians and a tireless advocate for LGBTI and gender equality.
"Honored to represent USA in Sochi and I hope these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,’ King tweeted Tuesday (17 December) evening.
Known to be very informed and outspoken about controversial topics, King seems certain to weigh in during The Games about Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law which makes it illegal to speak out publicly in support of homosexuality.
White House spokesman Shin Inouye said the delegation ‘represents the diversity that is the United States’ and that Obama ‘knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork.’
USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan called it a ‘stroke of genius’ for Obama to send King.
‘What better way to show the nation’s disgust for President Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay propaganda law than for Obama to send an American cultural icon and sports legend who also happens to be openly gay?’ she wrote in a column after the selection was announced.
About three months ago, King talked to another reporter at the newspaper about the law and said ‘I would hope the majority of the athletes would speak out. It’s a great platform.’
Then she sighed: ‘I wish I was 21 again and in the Olympics.’
Tennis did not return to the Summer Olympics as an official sport until 1988, five years after King had retired from the tennis tour at the age of 40.