If you were watching the red carpet arrivals on Sunday night, you might have had trouble identifying a few of the guests' dates. Some actors bring their spouses, some bring their moms, but who did Emma Stone bring to the Golden Globes? If you didn't recognize the Oscar winner's date, that was none other than Billie Jean King, the tennis champion Stone portrayed in 2017's Battle of the Sexes. Stone has been nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy for the role.
Along with several other members of the Time's Up movement, Stone chose to bring a women's rights activist as her date in order to "redirect attention from abusers to survivors and lasting solutions," according to The New York Times. King is a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, and the founder of the Women's Sports Foundation, the Women's Tennis Association, and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative.
A joint statement issued by the empowering activists who joined Stone, Laura Dern, Amy Poehler, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Michelle Williams, and Shailene Woodley explains the decision: "We believe we are nearing a tipping point in transforming the culture of violence in the countries where we live and work. It's a moment to transform both the written and unwritten rules that devalue the lives and experiences of women."
Time's Up is an initiative founded by 300 prominent women in the entertainment industry that's aimed at putting an end to workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence, not just in the the entertainment industry, but all industries. In addition to using their positions of fame to call attention to the issue and lobby for improved laws and working conditions, Time's Up has created a legal defense fund, administered by the National Women’s Law Center, to provide support for workers who have experienced sexual harassment or related retaliation. If you need legal assistance, you can fill out this form, and if you're an attorney who's able to volunteer their services, please click here.
This is far from the first time that a biopic star has brought their subject to an awards show, but King is more than just a tennis star. In keeping with the Time's Up trend of bringing activists to the show on Sunday, King serves on the board of trustees for both the Women's Sports Foundation and the World TeamTennis Charities Foundation (both of which she founded) and serves as director of both the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National AIDS Fund. She is also a recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.
King, once the top-ranked women's tennis player in the world, won the U.S. Open, French Open, and Wimbledon in 1972, and the following year, she formed the Women's Tennis Association and threatened to boycott the U.S. Open over pay inequality, according to Biography. Her demands were met, and the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to women and men. Later that year, she famously defeated male tennis player Bobby Riggs in 1973's so-called "Battle of the Sexes," proving once and for all that equal pay was more than justified.
In 1981, King was outed as a lesbian due to a palimony suit brought by her ex-girlfriend, according to The New York Times. One of the first professional athletes to be publicly outed, King's reps urged her to deny her sexuality, but, she refused. Last year, she explained her choice in an NBC News interview: "I said: 'I'm going to do it. I don't care. This is important to me to tell the truth.' The one thing my mother always said, 'To thine own self be true.'" When asked if she wishes she'd done anything differently, King responded, "I'd come out earlier."
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