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Tennis legend Billie Jean King wants to see more gay athletes

Tennis legend Billie Jean King wants to see more gay athletes

Tennis legend Billie Jean King has praised the new generation of gay athletes who have paved the way for equality.

The US former world number one tennis player knows a thing or two about being LGBTI in the world of sport. She came out in 1981 when she was one of the most prominent professional sports stars in the world.

She praised the current crop of LGBTI athletes like football player Michael Sam, basketball stars Jason Collins and Britney Griner who are all openly gay.

King said greater acceptance will come when ‘you just keep chipping away.’

She also went on to say the more gay athletes we have, the more issue of being gay in sport will decrease.

‘When we have more guys who are gay and it’s a non-issue,’ she said.

‘I don’t know how many gay football players in the NFL it will take.’

‘One of the biggest things that would help is if one of the quarterbacks who is straight, or all collectively say, ‘‘This is a non-issue. Let’s get on with it. As long as they do their job, we don’t care.’’

‘The Bradys, the Lucks, the Romos, Payton Manning, Eli Manning, if all those guys would just say — ‘‘This is so ridiculous, as long as the guy can play, we don’t care what color, what sexual orientation.’’’

As one of the first inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013, King believes less scrutiny on LGBTI players from the press would help.

‘If the media stops talking about it, it will be helpful,’ she said.

‘The reason we cover it, it’s an exception. That’s the way the world works, the way the news works.’

Last month it was announced King will team up with lifelong friend Sir Elton John to host a tennis event to raise funds for an AIDS charity later this year in London.