Presented with the Stanford Center on Ethics
Title IX is the landmark legislation enacted in 1972 that establishes gender equity in schools, whether in academics or athletics. It states: “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid.” This Educational Amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 furthered progress toward the goal of making sure all Americans, regardless of gender, are given equal opportunity to pursue a good education, to compete in the athletic arena, and to enter any profession for which they are qualified.
Also in 1972, Billie Jean King became the first woman and the first tennis player to be named “Sportswoman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated magazine. In 1973 she lobbied for, and obtained, equal prize money for men and women at the US Open. That same year she defeated Bobbie Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes,” and said, “Tennis has always been reserved for the rich, the white, the males—and I've always been pledged to change all that." As part of this pledge she founded the Women’s Sports Foundation to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity and co-founded World Team Tennis, the only co-ed league in professional tennis. She became WTT Commissioner in 1984, the first woman commissioner in professional sports history. She remains active in WTT today.
King's words and actions made Title IX real and have often placed her in the center of debates over equality between the sexes, amateurism versus professionalism in sports, and gay and lesbian rights. She recently observed, “Title IX was passed in 1972 to provide equal rights for young men and women. Why are we still battling for this now?” Join Billie Jean King and LaDoris Cordell for a conversation that explores this and other questions.
BILLIE JEAN KING
Ranked 19th in the country at the age of 16, Billie Jean King went on to have one of the most spectacular athletic careers of the twentieth century. She holds a record 20 Wimbledon titles, won the U.S. Open four times, the French Open in 1972, and the Australian Open in 1968. In 1987, she established WTT Charities to promote health, fitness, education, and social change. In 1996, she guided the U.S. Olympic Women’s Tennis Team to a gold medal sweep. She now serves as a director on the boards of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed for King, in honor of her contributions to tennis, sports and society both on and off the court. This is the first major sports facility to be named for a woman. In October 2006, the National Sports Museum announced that it will house the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center, the first hall of fame and center dedicated to women’s sports, when it opens in 2008.
LADORIS CORDELL (interviewer)
A Stanford Law School graduate who was the first African American to serve as a Superior Court judge in northern California, LaDoris Cordell is now special counselor to the president for campus relations at Stanford. She is the subject of an award-winning PBS documentary, Color of Justice, which is based upon her 1988 visit to South Africa for a human rights conference . She has also been featured in two highly acclaimed television documentaries on the three-strikes law and on juvenile justice. A resident of Palo Alto for 20 years, she ran a grassroots campaign and won election to the Palo Alto City Council in 2003. She serves as Title IX Compliance Officer and Special Counselor to the President at Stanford.