Billie Jean King plans to be outspoken at Olympics in Russia as part of official presidential delegation
It’s no secret that Billie Jean King has been a hero of mine for more than 30 years – ever since I read her autobiography in the early 80s.
Her attitude and energy inspired me in my own life in ways few people have.
She’s just the gift that keeps on giving.
Now at 70, she’s getting all kinds of attention because President Obama very wisely chose her to be part of the delegation representing the US at the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
‘I’m very proud to go as an athlete, and as a gay woman,’ she told CNN yesterday. ‘I’m thrilled.’
Her selection is so significant because of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and all the misery it has led to. Unlike fellow delegate Brian “Gay is only a part of who I am” Boitano, BJK knows this is hugely symbolic and she won’t be shying away from the enormity of the situation.
‘I’m definitely going to give my opinion,’ Billie Jean said. ‘But I hope we have lots of security at the same time. … I must say, there is a – there is a part of me that will be very alert, very alert, because you just never know what’s going to happen.’
King hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin on the anti-gay laws will change his mind before there is any more harm done to the LGBT community.
‘This is just an issue that has to be resolved, because what’s happening is because bullying and hate, the hatred involved is becoming very, very prevalent now,’ she said. ‘And you can be really hateful and you can bully. You can kill others and get away with it now because of this, I think, ambiguous new law that says it’s OK to really hurt us.’
But the winner of 20 Wimbledon titles has never supported boycotting the Olympics in Russia.
‘I’m not real big on boycotting usually. It has to be absolutely a last resort,’ she said. ‘I think it’s more important to go and be there and be involved and be committed to trying to help change and trying to let people also know if you’re gay that you’re not alone. If you’re part of the LGBT community, you are not alone.’