Billie Jean King receives France's Legion of Honor award

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French President Emmanuel Macron holds the hand of tennis legend Billie Jean King, of the U.S, after she was awarded with the Legion d'Honneur at the Elysee Palace Friday, June 3, 2022 in Paris. A ceremony Thursday at the Roland Garros stadium marked the 50th anniversary of her French Open win.(AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias, Pool)

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

King, who is in France as the French Open concludes, received the award in recognition of her contributions to women’s sports, 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 was back on the main clay court at the Paris tennis complex that hosts the French Open for a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of winning the 1972 tournament title.

The year before, King risked her career to help start the Virginia Slims Tour for professional women players. It led to the creation of the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973 as the organizing body for women’s professional tennis.