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Celebrating Canada's 2SLGBTQI+ Communities

FLASHBACK: Tennis Great Billie Jean King Outed (April 28, 1981)

April 28, 1981: Today in LGBTQ+ history: Tennis great Billie Jean King outed…

On April 28, 1981, former Beverly Hills hairdresser Marilyn Barnett filed a multimillion-dollar palimony suit against tennis icon Billie Jean King, claiming that the two had a seven-year relationship. Barnet felt she was entitled to King’s Malibu beach house as well as half of the tennis star’s earnings from the period when they were together. At the time, King denied that she was a lesbian, although she acknowledged the affair. King lost all her endorsements in a 24-hour period (an estimated $2 million) and had to postpone her retirement from tennis for financial reason. Barnett lost her case later in the year as well as a subsequent appeal, not because of any doubts about the affair but because it was ruled it had never constituted a contractual relationship.

Today, King remains is an active advocate for ending homophobia in sports.

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