Michelle Obama was joined by New York teenager Gabby Bell during a ceremony at the US Open Monday night.
The former First Lady went to the court on Monday night to pay a rousing tribute to Billie Jean King marking the 50th anniversary of the US Open becoming the first Grand Slam tennis tournament to pay equal prize money to men and women.
Obama introduced the 79-year-old tennis legend by recalling how King, the US Open champion in 1972, rallied her fellow women players to successfully threaten a boycott of the next year’s tournament unless women got the same pay as men.
However, Obama was also joined by a less familiar face as tennis youngster Gabby Bell sat alongside the former First Lady during the ceremony and later posed for photos with King and singer Sara Bareilles, who performed at the occasion.
But who is Gabby Bell and why was she at the ceremony?
Michelle Obama was joined by New York teenager Gabby Bell at the US Open Monday night
She was part of a ceremony to celebrate Billie Jean King, with Obama and singer Sara Bareilles
Who is Gabby Bell?
15-year-old Gabby Bell is a Brooklyn, New York native, who is a student at the Kings County Tennis League (KCTL), according to a board member.
Bell reportedly joined KCTL, which uses tennis for youth development & community building in Brooklyn neighborhoods, in 2018.
A post about Gabby on the league’s website described her as funny, determined and kind.
It read: ‘Over the past three year, she has transformed from a shy girl to a leader off and on the court — even becoming the captain of her middle school tennis team! She participates in every KCTL program available to her, including our Buddy Program which matched her with her mentors, Emma and Alexis!
‘Emma describes Gabby as “a funny, determined, kind young woman, on and off court, whose potential is boundless.” Gabby is an exceptional role model for the entire KCTL community and recently received the 2021 Breakpoint Award, KCTL’s most prestigious annual recognition and an honor that demonstrates the true leader she is in the KCTL community.’
Bell shares a sweet moment with the former First Lady as they sat on court at Arthur Ashe
Why was she at the US Open?
The US Tennis Association invited Bell along to participate in the ceremony to celebrate 50 years of equal pay at the US Open.
She walked out on to the Arthur Ashe court with Chairman of the Board and President of the United States Tennis Association, Brian Hainline, Obama, King and Bareilles as part of the ceremony Monday night.
‘Sooooo proud of our @kctennisleague student, Gabby!!!, KCTL board member Corbin Wong tweeted. ‘What a huge moment and honor and thank you to the @usta for giving one of our kids this moment with legends and icons @BillieJeanKing and @MichelleObama!!!’
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