Billie Jean King to attend Sochi Olympics closing ceremony

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Tennis star Billie Jean King will be part of President Obama's delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, the White House announced on Friday.

She had originally been slated to attend the opening ceremony but was forced to miss the launch of the games to care for her mother, who was ill.

King and Olympic medalists Brian Boitano and Caitlin Cahow — who were part of the delegation to the opening ceremony — are all openly gay and were selected by the administration as a message to Russia, where lawmakers passed anti-gay legislation last year.

The White House initially said the selection of openly gay athletes was only meant to highlight the “diversity” of the U.S. But in an interview with NBC News' Bob Costas on the eve of the Olympics, Obama said there was “no doubt” he hoped to send a message to Moscow.

“There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Obama.

The closing ceremony to be held on Feb. 23, will be led by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and will also include U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, and Olympic gold medalists Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

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