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Billie Jean King backs Annika Sorenstam

The way tennis great Billie Jean King sees it, Annika Sorenstam's decision to play in the Colonial is the perfect way to celebrate an anniversary.

On Sept. 20, 1973, King beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes," bringing more exposure to women's sports.

Now comes Sorenstam. The world's best female golfer will become the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour when she plays at the Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, in May.

"I think this is pretty fitting that Annika is going out and playing in the tournament," King said Thursday. "It's kind of like an anniversary in some ways. ... I think she's going to do just fine."

Sorenstam won 13 times around the world last year, shattered the tour's scoring record and finished out of the top 10 only three times. The previous year, she became the first woman to shoot a 59 and earn more than $2 million in one season.

She said she agreed to play in the Colonial because she's curious to see how she will perform against men.

"I think it's great that she chose to do this," said King, who won 12 Grand Slam singles titles. "The world is going to appreciate her a lot more. I think deep down she thinks she hasn't gotten the media coverage she deserves, and I think that this is finally a way the media can pay attention to her accomplishments.

"For the LPGA and women's sports, I hope she's embracing that thought in how to elevate recognition for women's sports."

The last woman to play on the PGA Tour was Babe Zaharias, who qualified for the 1945 Los Angeles Open and made the 36-hole cut before she was eliminated in the third round with a 79.


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