The following is the text of a press release issued by the SS United States Conservancy:
This time it’s not a Battle of the Sexes, it’s a race against time as one American champion lends a hand to save another. With the SS United States Conservancy continuing its SOS campaign to save America’s Flagship, Tennis Hall of Famer and owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms of Mylan World TeamTennis, Billie Jean King will be assisting the non-profit group in raising awareness about the plight of our nation’s most historic maritime achievement. King will also serve as an honorary member of the Conservancy’s Advisory Council.
The historic ocean liner SS United States
endures as an enduring symbol of America’s power and innovation. An icon of her age, she was one of the great American engineering achievements of the 20th
century. The ship, which today awaits her renewal at a Philadelphia pier, is 100 feet longer than the Titanic and still holds the transatlantic speed record.
“Billie Jean’s commitment to the ship comes at a critical time and we are grateful for her willingness to be a champion for the United States once again,” said Susan Gibbs, the SS United States Conservancy’s executive director and granddaughter of the vessel’s designer. In March, the Conservancy launched an urgent S.O.S. campaign
hoping to raise $500,000 in short-term funds to cover the 1,000-foot-long ship’s extensive maintenance costs. The funds will give the organization additional time to formalize an agreement with developers to repurpose the ship
into mixed-use use development and museum complex, including a Center for Design and Discovery, event space, retail, dining, and hospitality uses.
While the grassroots organization has received international attention for its quest to save the fastest ocean liner ever built – and the largest made in America – they may be forced to sell the ship for scrap metal next month if additional resources aren’t raised.
“The SS United States is a part of the history of this great nation and the more you know about history, the more you know about yourself. I hope we can join together in this important initiative and help the SS United States transition into a new and important phase of her life,” said Billie Jean King.
King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles and was ranked #1 in the world five times during her career. Her victory in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs gained her mainstream attention and made her a global symbol for gender equality. She went on to found the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation and co-found World TeamTennis. She currently sits on the Boards of Women’s Sports Foundation, the Andy Roddick Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
“The life and career of Billie Jean King has served as an inspiration for women, athletes and countless others,” states Gibbs. “Like the SS United States, she is a true champion and pioneer who made history representing our nation to the world. When Billie Jean won the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, she broke down barriers and stereotypes empowering not only women but everyone trying to beat the odds. She has much in common with our “Lady in Waiting,” and we are thrilled that the United States will have her as an advocate.”