Tennis’s newest champion, 19-year-old Coco Gauff, took a moment over the weekend to highlight the important work of out tennis legend Billie Jean King, who has worked years to ensure pay equity in the sport.
Coco Gauff celebrates win
Gauff, the world No. 10 women’s singles player, defeated Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 2-6 6-3 6-2 with a surprising comeback in the women’s U.S. Open final on Saturday. Having won the title, she became the youngest American to do so since Serena Williams in 1999.
After the win, Gauff collected her $3 million check, and she gave a heartfelt thanks to tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“Thank you, Billie,” Gauff said after receiving the check, “for fighting for this.”
King won 39 Grand Slam titles throughout her career, changing the world of sports along the way. She defeated Bobby Riggs in The Battle of the Sexes in 1973 in front of around 50 million people. It's been described as a milestone in the acceptance of female athletes by the public, as well as a triumph for women’s rights.
She achieved what she had been working on for quite some time the following season. With Gauff’s win, the U.S. Open marked 50 years since it awarded equal prizes to the winner of each tournament.
King’s fight paved the way for Gauff and every woman who has won the U.S. Open since.
In addition to the Women’s Tennis Association, King also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 1998, King made headlines when she came out as a lesbian. She became the first out lesbian coach of the United States women’s tennis team in 2000.