(Reuters) – Sports trailblazers Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Lewis Hamilton were among those hailing the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, saying they hoped the new administration can foster a more inclusive society.
Former President Donald Trump was critical of athletes who used their platforms to highlight issues such as police brutality, especially when those protests took the form of kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.
“Let us not waste this opportunity to reckon with our past, and move forward justice and equality,” Megan Rapinoe, twice a World Cup winner with the U.S. women’s team, said on Twitter.
During their charge towards winning the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe had made it clear the team had no interest in paying a visit to the White House should they emerge victorious, drawing a Twitter blast from Trump.
But with the combative Republican out of office, many athletes believed there was now a chance to make progress on the issues that led millions of people from all over the world to take to the streets to protest the deaths of Black people in U.S. police custody.
Others focused on Harris becoming the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian American to serve as vice president.
“Talk about a moment for my kids to see! How y’all doing this morning????” tweeted Golden State Warriors guard and father of three Steph Curry alongside a photo of Harris being sworn in.
The Warriors, who called Harris’ native city of Oakland home before relocating to San Francisco two years ago, also posted a video of Curry presenting Harris with a framed Warriors jersey with “Madame VP” written on the back.
“I will proudly, proudly display this in the office of the vice president of the United States,” Harris said in the video.
Tennis great and equal pay champion King said Harris’ rise to the office marked the beginning of a new era.
“Kamala Harris is the first, but she will not be the last,” King said in a tweet.
The reactions extended beyond U.S. borders, with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton calling the inauguration a “historic day in America.”
“Today brings so much hope for the future, an example of diversity in leadership that I hope to see mirrored across industries and governments,” said Hamilton, who is Formula One’s only Black driver.
“Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris, best of luck.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)