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Billy Jean King receives the French Legion of Honor Award

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

French President Emmanuel Macron is holding the hand of tennis legend Billy Jean King of the United States after she was awarded the Legion of Honor at the Elysee Palace on Friday, June 3, 2022 in Paris. A ceremony Thursday at Roland Garros Stadium marked the 50th anniversary of her victory in the French Open. (AP Photo / Jean-Francois Badias, Pool)

PARIS – Tennis legend and LGBTQ activist Billy Jean King received France’s highest civilian award, the Legion of Honor, on Friday.

King, who is in France at the end of the French Open, received the award in recognition of her contribution to women’s sport, gender equality and the rights of LGBTQ people in athletics. She took part in a short ceremony at the Presidential Elysee Palace at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The 78-year-old returned to the main clay court at the Paris Tennis Complex, which is hosting the French Open for a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of winning the 1972 tournament title.

A year earlier, King had risked his career to help launch the Virginia Slims Tour for professional female players. This led to the establishment of the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973 as an organizational body for women’s professional tennis.

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Billy Jean King receives the French Legion of Honor Award

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