Former tennis great Billie Jean King of the United States is being honored by the International Olympic Committee for her work to promote women's sport. King has received the world award of the IOC's Women and Sport Trophy. The body cited her work as "an advocate for women's rights, within and outside sport." She was unable to attend the ceremony in Lausanne because of her commitments as captain of the U.S. Fed Cup Tennis team which is playing this weekend in the United States.
King won 71 career titles, including 12 Grand Slam tournaments, and was the first woman to coach a mixed professional sports team. The IOC noted she created her own foundation to promote equal rights for all. Trophy winners were picked by the IOC Women and Sport Working Group from 44 candidates nominated by national Olympic committees.
The African trophy went to athlete Tsigie Gebre-Mesih of Ethiopia, the first woman from her country to participate at the Olympic Games, while the Americas trophy was awarded to Rafaela Gonzalez Ferrer of Cuba for her work in fencing and in the general development of sport for women in her country.
The Asian trophy was awarded to the Burma Women's Sports Federation for promoting the participation of girls and women in sport and physical education, while soccer player Lale Orta of Turkey received the European award for her leadership in women's field sports, as an athlete, coach, commentator and referee.
The trophy for Oceania went to Australia's Helen Brownlee for her role in increasing participation in women's Olympic canoeing.