Billie Jean King Named Australian Open Woman Of The Year

Billie Jean King (photo: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 ,via Wikimedia Commons)

AO Press Release, January 13, 2018

Tennis legend and tireless human rights campaigner Billie Jean King was named Australian Open Woman of the Year.

The accolade was announced by Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley at the announcement of #Open4All, a wide-ranging equality, diversity and inclusion initiative that will be brought to life throughout the tournament.

Craig Tiley announced that #Open4All would include a series of special events, designed to celebrate the intrinsic fairness and equality of the sport of tennis which welcomes everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ability.

“Tennis Australia, along with the rest of the tennis family, proudly live the values of equality, inclusion and diversity,” Tiley said.

“If you can pick up a racquet, it does not matter your race, gender, ability, age or sexual orientation, you are welcome.

“We believe sport can be a very powerful vehicle for social change, both here in Australia and around the world, and I hope the theme of #Open4All at Australian Open 2018 will help to promote the values of our organisation and our sport.

“As a community we have come a long way, but we also understand that this is an ongoing journey. We are not there yet, but there are encouraging signs of progress.

“I’m delighted to welcome Billie Jean King back to the Australian Open. She will be a big part of our #Open4All celebrations.

“I’m also very happy to announce today that we will honour Billie Jean as Australian Open Woman of the Year in a ceremony on Rod Laver Arena between the women’s semifinals.

“Her tireless work for equality transcends her reputation as a sporting legend. The leadership she has shown throughout her life is an inspiration to us all.”

Billie Jean King, celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Australian Open win, was delighted to take part in the official launch of #Open4All.

“I’m excited to return to the Australian Open and to be part of this year’s tournament and the #Open4All events.

“This is a strong and important theme for the first Grand Slam of the year, and while we have made significant progress over the years in our sport and in society, we still have a great deal of work to do.

“It’s a privilege to be honoured as the Australian Open Woman of the Year. I have always had a strong connection to Australia and Australian tennis.

“I will share this honour with the members of the Original Nine, who stood together for the birth of women’s professional tennis, and with every woman and man who has worked so hard for equality in our sport and in our society. 

“I want to thank Craig Tiley and everyone at the Australian Open for welcoming me back and congratulate them on their commitment to equality.”

#Open4All events include:

·        Billie Jean King honoured as Australian Open Woman of the Year at an on-court ceremony at Rod Laver Arena on women’s semifinal day

·        Australian Open to host after-party for the Better Together inclusion conference

·        Billie Jean King to lead Australian Open Inspirational Seriessymposium

·        Thursday 25 January will be #Open4All day at the Australian Open, with the spotlight firmly shining on equality, inclusion and diversity

·        Magic Moments Battle of the Sexes celebrity mixed doubles match following the men’s semifinal on Thursday 25 January

·        Peking Duk to perform at the AO Live Stage at Middle Terrace, with funds to be donated to Victorian Pride Centre and Stand Up Events. 

Australian Open Inspirational Series symposium 

On Thursday 25 January Billie Jean King will lead the Australian Open Inspirational Series, a symposium based on the theme of Empowering Leaders.

King will be joined by fellow tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley andJelena Dokic, whose inspirational story of survival in her recently released autobiography has become an instant best-seller.

Hosted by Paul Kennedy and Beverly O’Connor, the stellar speaking line up also includes Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, Ann Cairns, President International Markets for Mastercard, Natasha Stott Despoja, former Senator and Ambassador for Australia for women and girls, Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, Director of the Port Adelaide Foodball Club and Co-Chair of the 2014 Y20 Youth Summit, and Sam Mostyn, President of the Australian Council for International Development and Deputy Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia.

Magic Moments Battle of the Sexes celebrity mixed doubles match 

Inspired by Billie Jean King’s legendary Battle of the Sexes, the Magic Moments celebrity mixed doubles match is not about women vs men, but rather a celebration of equality inspired by the trailblazing exploits of Billie Jean.

A group of tennis legends, current day players and celebrities will compete in a fun mixed doubles exhibition match in a celebration of equality in both tennis and life. 

#Open4All party at the AO Live Stage 

Dynamic electro-pop duo Peking Duk will perform at the AO Live Stage at Middle Terrace at 6:30 pm on Thursday 25 January. Proceeds from ground passes accessing the AO Live Stage will be donated to the Victorian Pride Centre and Stand Up Events.

Melbourne Glam Slam

In a Grand Slam first the Vic Tennis Midsumma 2018 will be staged at the clay courts at Melbourne Park from 19-21 January and is open to all players, aged 18 and over, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

The tournament will attract up to 165 players from Australia and around the world and is being run by Vic Tennis, one of the longest running LGBT sporting associations in Australia.

AO Community Grants – Kia Ball Drive 

AO Community Grants support local tennis programs with a focus on improving diversity and inclusion across Australia, The Kia Ball Drive gives fans the chance to purchase a used AO tennis ball for a gold coin donation from their stand in Garden Square.

Australian Tennis Championships 

The Australian Tennis Championships is Australia’s largest annual event for people with an intellectual impairment, with the finals and presentations staged at Melbourne Park on Australian Open finals weekend.