The City of Long Beach recently approved to name the City’s new library after LGBTQ+ icon, Long Beach native and tennis star Billie Jean King.
“This honor would represent my life coming full circle, and my complete belief of having a commonplace for the community, where all are equally welcome and have access to visit, learn, and grow,” King said in a letter to the City.
The 93,000 square foot library will be located downtown at the southwest corner of the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Pacific Avenue. It is scheduled to open September 21. It will be 30 percent smaller that the original main library branch, only covering 135,000 square feet.
The City has more than 100 buildings and facilities. Besides Harvey Milk Park downtown and the Billie Jean King Tennis Center near Woodrow Wilson High School, no other public spaces have been named for people from the LGBTQ+ community. Since the campaign began, more than 1,000 people have sent letters, emails and petitions to the city in support of the idea since it was announced last month.
King has been celebrated for her fight for Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which was signed into law in 1972. It prohibits sex discrimination in all federally funded school programs, including sports.
Previous to its passage, only 1percent of college athletic budgets went to women’s sports programs. At the high school level, male athletes outnumbered female athletes 12.5 to 1. Since being passed, female participation at the high school level has grown by 1057 percent and by 614 percent at the college level.
On the tennis court, King is renounced for defeating Bobby Riggs, 55, in the “Battle of the Sexes,” which took place Sept. 20, 1973. King was 29 at the time. It is considered one of the greatest moments in sports history.
King is a former World No.1 professional tennis player with 39 Grand Slam titles.