ANIMALS
FUNNY
INSPIRING
LIFESTYLE
NEWS
PARENTING
RELATIONSHIPS
SCIENCE AND NATURE
WHOLESOME
WORK
Contact Us Privacy Policy Cookie Policy
© GOOD Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Coco Gauff thanks Billie Jean King for fighting for equal pay after collecting her $3 million check

This year, the US Open celebrated Billie Jean King and the 50th anniversary of the fight for equal pay.

Coco Gauff thanks Billie Jean King for fighting for equal pay after collecting her $3 million check
Cover Image Source: Coco Gauff with Billie Jean King at the USTA National Tennis Centre on September 9, 2023, in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Coco Gauff is honoring Billie Jean King, a feminist icon who fought against discrimination so that women in sports who followed after her would not have to. The 19-year-old Gauff beat 25-year-old Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus in the Flushing Meadows final at the 2023 US Open on Saturday, September 9, 2023. 

 Coco Gauff of the United States lifts the winners' trophy received from Billie Jean King after her victory against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open Tennis Championship 2023 at the USTA National Tennis Centre on September 9th, 2023 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Image Source: Coco Gauff of the United States lifts the winners' trophy received from Billie Jean King after her victory against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the Women's Singles Final on Arthur Ashe Stadium during the US Open Tennis Championship 2023 at the USTA National Tennis Centre on September 9th, 2023 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Gauff became the youngest American to win the tournament since Serena Williams in 1999. "I feel a little bit in shock at this moment," Gauff told the crowd after winning her first Grand Slam title, reports PEOPLE. "That French Open loss was a heartbreak for me, and that makes this moment even more sweeter than I could imagine." 


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Coco Gauff (@cocogauff)


 

There were several people she was grateful for who helped her on this incredible journey. First, she thanked her family and jokingly exposed her dad, "This is the first time I've ever seen my dad cry — he doesn't want me to tell you that." She also appreciated her critics and "the people who didn't believe in me."

"To those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it," she said. Finally, she thanked King, who was at the ceremony and presented her with a check for $3 million. "Thank you, Billie, for fighting for this," the charismatic teen said while waving the $3 million winner's cheque.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Women’s Tennis Association (@wta)


 

The tennis legend's longtime fight for equal pay came to fruition at the US Open exactly 50 years ago. Former first lady Michelle Obama recently paid tribute to the four-time US Open singles champion in a heartfelt speech on the 50th anniversary of the US Open becoming the first sporting event to offer equal prize money to female and male competitors. The unexpected tribute took place on the opening night of the tennis championship for King's achievement in fighting for equal pay for women in tennis.

The former First Lady, as seen in a clip obtained by Sky Sports, mentioned how King has always stood as an inspiration for people around her. "Billie Jean teaches us that when things lie in the balance, we all have a choice to make," the mother-of-two said. "We can either wait around and accept what we’re given. We can sit silently and hope someone else fights our battles. Or we can make our own stand."


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Billie Jean King (@billiejeanking)


 

Though King has garnered more than 30 titles to her name throughout her career, her landmark moment was when she beat Bobby Riggs in a heavily publicized "Battle of the Sexes" match. The win was huge for women in tennis as it was the first time a female player received the same amount a man would get for winning a match: $25,000. It also sheds light on the importance of women's sports and how female players can perform on equal footing with their male counterparts.

Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King tactfully holds down the net, so that 55-year-old Bobby Riggs can easily clear it during meeting at an east side tennis club here July 11th. Returning in triumph from London, Mrs. King will meet Riggs in a $100,000 winner-take-all tennis match, it was announced July 11th.
Image Source:Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King tactfully holds down the net, so that 55-year-old Bobby Riggs can easily clear it during a meeting at an east side tennis club here July 11, 1973. Returning in triumph from London, Mrs. King will meet Riggs in a $100,000 winner-take-all tennis match, it was announced on July 11.

The historic match took place on September 20, 1973, at Houston's Astrodome. King, the no.1 player of that time in women's tennis, beat Riggs in straight sets. Through her victory, she brought attention to the unfairness of gender disparity in sports. After the match, even Riggs admitted how good King was. 

Speaking to TODAY's Sheinelle Jones in an interview that aired August 25, King recalled, "When we shook hands, put our arms around each other, he said, 'I underestimated you.'" It led Kings to quickly search for her father amidst the spectators. It reminded her of what her father always taught her and her brother: "Never, ever underestimate your opponent, and always respect them, even if you don't like them."



 

More Stories on Upworthy