'I stand up for Caster Semenya,' says tennis great Billie Jean King

20 February 2019 - 12:28 By TimesLIVE
'My friend Caster Semenya is unequivocally female,' says veteran tennis star Billie Jean King.
'My friend Caster Semenya is unequivocally female,' says veteran tennis star Billie Jean King.
Image: Caster Semenya, via Facebook

Tennis great Billie Jean King - who famously played in the Battle of the Sexes in the 1970s - has offered Caster Semenya her full support against international athletics bosses.

"My friend Caster Semenya is unequivocally female. Forcing women with naturally high testosterone to give up ownership of their bodies and take drugs to compete in sport is barbaric, dangerous, and discriminatory. I stand behind her and hope she prevails," King shared on her social media account.

Last year, King awarded the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award from the Women's Sports Foundation to Semenya. 

And in July 2018, the tennis icon was among the prominent members of Women’s Sport Foundation and Athlete Ally who signed an open letter to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) calling for it to rescind its "discriminatory" regulations aimed at Semenya and other female athletes with naturally elevated levels of testosterone.

King fought for women's rights in the tennis world in the 1970s.

She formed the Women's Tennis Association, demanded and got equal pay for women at the US Open, and beat Bobby Riggs, a former male Wimbledon champion, in an exhibition match that was one of the most-watched televised sports events in US history.

Dubbed the Battle of the Sexes, the match drew 90-million TV viewers around the world. King was 29 and at the top of her game. Riggs was 55 and, despite being out of shape, swore he could still beat any woman. Battle of the Sexes was turned into a Hollywood film starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs. 


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