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Billie Jean King named Australian Open Woman of the Year

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Tennis legend and tireless human rights campaigner Billie Jean King was today named Australian Open Woman of the Year.

The accolade was announced by Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley at the announcement of #Open4All, a wide-ranging equality, diversity and inclusion initiative that will be brought to life throughout the tournament.

Craig Tiley announced that #Open4All would include a series of special events, designed to celebrate the intrinsic fairness and equality of the sport of tennis which welcomes everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ability.

“Tennis Australia, along with the rest of the tennis family, proudly live the values of equality, inclusion and diversity,” Tiley said.

“If you can pick up a racquet, it does not matter your race, gender, ability, age or sexual orientation, you are welcome.

“We believe sport can be a very powerful vehicle for social change, both here in Australia and around the world, and I hope the theme of #Open4All at Australian Open 2018 will help to promote the values of our organisation and our sport.

“As a community we have come a long way, but we also understand that this is an ongoing journey. We are not there yet, but there are encouraging signs of progress.

“I’m delighted to welcome Billie Jean King back to the Australian Open. She will be a big part of our #Open4All celebrations.

“I’m also very happy to announce today that we will honour Billie Jean as Australian Open Woman of the Year in a ceremony on Rod Laver Arena between the women’s semifinals.

“Her tireless work for equality transcends her reputation as a sporting legend. The leadership she has shown throughout her life is an inspiration to us all.”

Billie Jean King, celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Australian Open win, was delighted to take part in the official launch of #Open4All.

“I’m excited to return to the Australian Open and to be part of this year’s tournament and the #Open4All events.

“This is a strong and important theme for the first Grand Slam of the year, and while we have made significant progress over the years in our sport and in society, we still have a great deal of work to do.

“It’s a privilege to be honoured as the Australian Open Woman of the Year. I have always had a strong connection to Australia and Australian tennis.

“I will share this honour with the members of the Original Nine, who stood together for the birth of women’s professional tennis, and with every woman and man who has worked so hard for equality in our sport and in our society.

“I want to thank Craig Tiley and everyone at the Australian Open for welcoming me back and congratulate them on their commitment to equality.”