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Billie Jean
King's name to be added to New York's National Tennis Center

Billie Jean
King's name to be added to New York's National Tennis Center


The National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., site of the U.S. Open, will be renamed for out tennis legend Billie Jean King.

Billie Jean King's name will be added to the National Tennis Center during an opening-night ceremony at the U.S. Open, The New York Times reported Thursday. The plan to rename the tennis center, located in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., was to be announced at a news conference Thursday at Arthur Ashe Stadium. King; her mother, Betty; and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg were expected to attend. "This is a show of faith and respect," King told the Times. "And with it, a sense of responsibility. I don't think I'll ever comprehend this." The change will take effect August 28, the start of the U.S. Open, the newspaper reported. The United States Tennis Association previously honored Ashe by naming its stadium after him nine years ago. King is honored to share her name at the center with Ashe, the first black man to win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia after contracting the disease through a blood transfusion during heart surgery. "Arthur and I are now side-by-side, and we're both public-park kids," said the 62-year-old King, who came out in the 1980s. "We were born the same year, and we fought for human rights." King, the only woman to win U.S. singles titles on all four surfaces--grass, clay, carpet, and hard--won a record 20 Wimbledon titles and four U.S. Open championships. She also beat Bobby Riggs in a nationally televised showdown billed as "The Battle of the Sexes" in 1973, a triumph that brought attention to women's sports. Arlen Kantarian, the USTA's chief executive of professional tennis, told the newspaper that the association had long been exploring ways to honor King. "You're talking about coming up with something that measured up to the impact Billie Jean has had on tennis and society," he said. USTA chairman Franklin Johnson said he brought up the idea of renaming the center for King in March. The USTA voted unanimously in favor of the proposal last month. "Once it was put forward, people gravitated toward it," Johnson said. "It was readily accepted that we needed to honor her in this way." (AP)

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