WHO | Billie Jean King (and Bobby Riggs)
WHAT | Bobby Riggs challenges Billie Jean King to a $100,000 winner-takes-all tennis match.
WHEN | September 20, 1973
WHERE | The Houston Astrodome in Houston, Texas
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT IT IS | In May 1973, Bobby Riggs and Margaret Court face off in a $10,000 winner-takes-all tennis match. The 55 year old Riggs, a tennis champion of the 1930s and 1940s, was notoriously skeptical of women's talents on the tennis court. He branded his match against Court "A Battle of the Sexes". The match was played on Mother's Day n Riggs' home turf in Ramona, CA.
Riggs originally challenged Billie Jean King to the match, as she was the "leading women's libber of tennis". She ignored the offer, but Margaret Court, the leading money winner on the women's professional tour, accepted. Before the match, Riggs could be found loudly and consistently belittling women's tennis and its players to the media. Margaret Court was too busy raising her one year old son, and stayed out of it.
Court ended up losing the match. She wasn't used to Riggs' style. He lobbed slow hits, while she was accustomed to the hard-hitting on the women's tour.
The moment that match ended, Riggs immediately challenged King to a $100,000 winner takes all match. King, 29, won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in front of a sold out crowd at the Houston Astrodome. After Riggs death in 1995, King complemented her former rival and his probably accidental contribution to the advancement of sexual inequality, "Our 'Battle of the Sexes' match helped to advance the game of tennis and women everywhere."
FUN FACT | A movie adaptation titled "Battle of the Sexes" is in the works for a 2017 release featuring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs.