Tennis Hall of Famer joins SS United States conservation effort

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Tennis Hall of Famer Billie Jean King is joining the fight to save the historic ocean liner SS United States.

With the SS United States Conservancy continuing its SOS campaign to save America’s Flagship, the owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms of Mylan World TeamTennis also will serve as an honorary member of the conservancy’s advisory council.

The SS United States, which today awaits her renewal at a Philadelphia pier, is 100 feet longer than the Titanic and still holds the trans-Atlantic 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,” Susan Gibbs, the SS United States Conservancy’s executive director and granddaughter of the vessel’s designer, said in a statement.

In March, the conservancy launched an urgent SOS 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 a mixed-use development and museum complex, including a Center for Design and Discovery, event space and retail, dining and hospitality uses.

Although the grassroots organization has received international attention for its quest to save the fastest ocean liner ever built — and the largest made in America — it might 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,” King said in a statement.

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