Press Release

Gillibrand Announces Tennis Legend And Equal Rights Advocate Billie Jean King Will Be Her Guest To State Of The Union Address

Mar 5, 2024

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she will bring tennis legend and equal rights advocate Billie Jean King as her guest to President Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday.

“Billie Jean King is a trailblazing American icon and a pioneer for gender equality,” said Senator Gillibrand. “From her leadership on equal rights and Title IX to her advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community, Billie Jean has used her platform and talents to create positive, lasting change. I’m proud to be bringing her as my guest to the State of the Union this week, and I look forward to working with her closely in the coming months to advance equal rights for women.”

Billie Jean King has been a groundbreaking leader throughout her life and career in advancing equal rights for women in athletics, education and society at large. She was instrumental in securing equal prize money in men’s and women’s tennis at the U.S. Open, spearheaded the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association and brought worldwide attention to pay equality throughout her career and in her “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs.

In honor of her lifetime of achievement, Gillibrand has introduced bipartisan legislation to award Billie Jean King the Congressional Gold Medal. Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions to society. To date, an individual woman athlete has never received the Congressional Gold Medal. Previous athletes who have received the Congressional Gold Medal include Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens, Roberto Clemente, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Willie O’Ree, Greg LeMond, Larry Doby, Joe Louis and the 1980 Summer Olympic team.