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Tennis Star Supports Girls' Fitness with Initiative

Boston — Tennis legend Billie Jean King and soccer star Kristine Lilly launched an initiative called GoGirlGo! to raise awareness about the role fitness should play in the lives of girls between the ages of 8 to 18. The ceremony took place last month at the University of Massachusetts at Boston campus.

GoGirlGo! is the brainchild of the Women's Sports Foundation, which researched the connection between successful young women and fitness, and has determined that the health of today's girls is threatened by inactivity.

The Women's Sports Foundation's research shows that one in every six girls is obese or overweight, and that overweight women are 60 percent more likely to die from breast cancer. Also, 78 percent of 12th-grade girls are unhappy with their bodies, and one-third of girls will experience depression, anxiety or eating disorders.

The objectives of the GoGirlGo! initiative in Boston include providing grants to organizations that will provide physical activity for girls as well as providing a report card on the state of girls' physical activity and health in the city.

At the gathering that included Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, King, the founder of the Women's Sports Foundation, told a story about how she started playing tennis.

“I paid $8 for a racket and learned to play tennis on a public court,” King said. “This generation deserves that same opportunity. But because of conditions like high-crime neighborhoods and lack of funding for programs, many, many girls are not getting that chance, and that's where GoGirlGo! comes in.”

Similar initiatives by the Women's Sports Foundation have been launched in Atlanta, Chicago and San Antonio.

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