The Long Beach City Council recently voted unanimously for a third time in favor of renaming the city’s newly built main library after lesbian tennis legend and feminist trailblazer Billie Jean King.
Of the 20 people who reportedly spoke on the proposal were representatives of the Long Beach Century Club, LGBTQ advocates and the city’s tennis community, according to the562.org.
King herself is expected to attend the library’s grand opening and dedication on Sept. 21.
In June 2019, local sports journalist Mike Guardabascio wrote:
This city has produced one of the most culturally significant Americans of the last 100 years, both a singular athlete and an important and necessary vehicle of social change. She’s been recognized and honored by Hollywood, the New York Times bestseller list, and the United States government, but never properly honored by her hometown,
Guardabascio thinks the library could become a revenue-generating tourist attraction if it displays some King memorabilia. He also sees it as a fitting tribute to King since she has often mentioned her hometown in interviews and helped raise money for local schools.
When we honored King for her “Stonewall Spirit,” we mentioned that she won 12 women’s Grand Slam titles (seventh-most of all time), won the Wimbledon title six times and also won 27 doubles and mixed-doubles Grand Slam titles, making her the third-most decorated player in Grand Slam history.
She has also advocated for the equality of women, LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Five years later, he named her to the Rio Games Olympic delegation to raise awareness about the worthiness of LGBTQ athletes.