Billie Jean King headed to Olympics closing

By AFP, Washington

Openly gay tennis legend Billie Jean King will attend the Winter Olympics' closing ceremony on February 23 as part of the US delegation following the death of her mother.
King, 70, had withdrawn from the US party for the opening ceremony in the Russian coastal resort city of Sochi in order to care for her ailing mother, Betty Moffitt, in the United States.
However, the White House named King on Friday in an updated five-member delegation that will represent the United States at the closing ceremony. It will be led by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.  King's inclusion follows reports of her mother's death in Prescott, Arizona on February 7 at the age of 91.  The decision for King to attend the opening ceremony as a member of the US delegation chosen by the White House raised eyebrows when it was announced amid ongoing controversy over Russia's anti- gay laws.
The former multi-Grand Slam-winning champion has long championed equality for gays and lesbians.
This year's Winter Games are the first Olympics since 2000 in which the US delegation has not featured a US president, vice- president or first lady.  It comes against a backdrop of strained relations between Russia and the United States on various foreign policy issues, including Syria and US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.