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The Ultimate Showdown: Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs

How Bobby Riggs Challenged Female Tennis Players

By Chukwuebuka Sunday Published 6 months ago 3 min read

The Battle of the Sexes was a historic tennis match played between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973. It was a highly publicized event that captured the attention of millions around the world.


Bobby Riggs was a former tennis champion who had been out of the game for several years. He had won the Wimbledon Men's Singles title in 1939 and the US Open Men's Singles title in 1939 and 1941.

Bobby Riggs became a gambler after his retirement

After retiring from professional tennis, Riggs went on to become a hustler and gambler, winning and losing large sums of money. He was 55 years old at the time of the match and had recently become known for his comments about the inferiority of female tennis players.

On the other hand, Billie Jean King was a 29-year-old tennis champion who had won numerous titles and was at the height of her career. She had won the Wimbledon Women's Singles title in 1966, 1967, and 1968, as well as the US Open Women's Singles title in 1967, 1971, and 1972.

Billie Jean King

King was also a vocal advocate for gender equality in sports, fighting for equal pay and opportunities for female athletes.

The Build-Up

Riggs began a campaign to challenge top female tennis players, including Margaret Court, who he defeated in a match earlier that year. He claimed that women's tennis was inferior to men's and that even at the age of 55, he could defeat any female player. Riggs' comments caused controversy and sparked a debate about gender equality in sports.

King was hesitant to accept Riggs' challenge, but eventually agreed to the match, seeing it as an opportunity to prove that women were just as capable as men on the tennis court. The match was scheduled for September 20, 1973, at the Houston Astrodome. The event was highly publicized, with both players making media appearances and conducting interviews in the lead-up to the match.

Bobby Riggs believed in the superiority of male tennis players

The match was not just about tennis; it was a symbol of the broader struggle for gender equality. King saw the match as a chance to make a statement and to push for greater opportunities for women in sports. Riggs, on the other hand, saw the match as an opportunity to prove his point about the superiority of men in sports.

The Match

The match was a spectacle, with over 30,000 people in attendance and over 90 millions watching on television. The match was viewed by an estimated fifty million people in the United States.

Riggs entered the court dressed in a Sugar Daddy jacket, while King wore a simple blue and white outfit. Riggs took an early lead, winning the first set 6-4. However, King rallied back, winning the next two sets 6-3 and 6-3, respectively.

Highlight of the match;

The match was highly competitive, with both players displaying exceptional skill and athleticism. King's superior speed and agility proved to be a challenge for Riggs, who struggled to keep up with her. Despite his best efforts, Riggs was unable to regain the lead, and King emerged as the victor.

The Aftermath

The match was more than just a tennis match. It was a symbol of the fight for gender equality and a moment that inspired women around the world. King became a role model for young girls and women, showing them that they could achieve greatness in any field.

The match also had a lasting impact on the world of sports, paving the way for more opportunities for women in athletics. King's win is considered a milestone in public acceptance of women's tennis.


"Billie Jean slam-bangs Riggs to defeat"

JuliaKate E. Culpepper (September 20, 2017). "On This Day: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes".

"Battle of the Sexes". Chicago Tribune

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