Billie Jean King, Katrina Adams discuss Title IX in U.S. State Department webinar
Katrina Adams and Billie Jean King each made history in their tennis careers, both as active players and beyond, and both women stress that Title IX, as both concept and concrete legislation, had a profound impact on their formative years.
Former USTA president Adams and trailblazing tennis legend King joined a U.S. State Department webinar last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibited sex-based discrimination in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance. While the law was not explicitly written with sports in mind, it has since become best-known for its impact on interscholastic and intercollegiate athletics, and both Adams and King's tennis careers are intertwined with it.
King enrolled at Cal State LA following her 1961 Wimbledon doubles win as an amateur before fulling committing to her international tennis career in 1964. With Title IX not signed until June 23, 1972, the difference between how she and her team were treated in comparison to nearby men's programs was stark. More than 25 years later, Adams became an NCAA individual doubles champion at Northwestern University in 1987 and was twice voted an All-American. Title IX afforded her the opportunity to attend Northwestern on an athletic scholarship, and she went on to play on the WTA Tour for more than a decade.
“I’ve realized just how … fortunate I was to be around in this era, to be a beneficiary of Title IX, to have that opportunity to go to school and compete, when others before me didn’t have that,” Adams said. “Fifty years later, I’m very honored and privileged to have had that opportunity, because it’s opened so many doors for me, not just on the tennis court but on the business side as well, and I now have the opportunity to pay it forward.”
Moderated by filmmaker Dawn Porter, the duo discussed their perspectives on gender and racial equity, visibility and representation, and inclusion in and through sports alongside assistant secretary for educational and cultural affairs Lee Satterfield. Read more about the panel by clicking here.