On September 20, 1973, in a extremely publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, prime ladies’s participant Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked males’s participant. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that ladies had been inferior, that they couldn’t deal with the stress of the sport and that even at his age he might beat any feminine participant. The match was an enormous media occasion, witnessed in individual by over 30,000 spectators on the Houston Astrodome and by one other 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by males dressed as historical slaves, whereas Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by feminine fashions. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell known as the match, during which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not solely helped legitimize ladies’s skilled tennis and feminine athletes, however it was seen as a victory for ladies’s rights basically.
READ MORE: When Billie Beat Bobby
King was born Billie Jean Moffitt on November 22, 1943, in Lengthy Seashore, California. Rising up, she was a star softball participant earlier than her dad and mom inspired her to attempt tennis, which was thought of extra ladylike. She excelled on the sport and in 1961, at age 17, throughout her first outing to Wimbledon, she gained the ladies’s doubles title. King would rack up a complete of 20 Wimbledon victories, in singles, doubles and combined doubles, over the course of her trailblazing profession. In 1971, she grew to become the primary feminine athlete to earn greater than $100,000 in prize cash in a single season. Nonetheless, important pay disparities nonetheless existed between women and men athletes and King lobbied laborious for change. In 1973, the U.S. Open grew to become the primary main tennis event at hand out the identical quantity of prize cash to winners of each sexes.
In 1972, King grew to become the primary girl to be chosen Sports activities Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Yr” and in 1973, she grew to become the primary president of the Girls’s Tennis Affiliation. King additionally established a sports activities basis and journal for ladies and a workforce tennis league. In 1974, as a coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, one of many groups within the league, she grew to become the primary girl to go up an expert co-ed workforce.
The “mom of recent sports activities” retired from tennis with 39 Grand Slam profession titles. She remained energetic as a coach, commentator and advocate for ladies’s sports activities and different causes. In 2006, the USTA Nationwide Tennis Heart, dwelling of the U.S. Open, was renamed in King’s honor. Through the dedication ceremony, tennis nice John McEnroe known as King “the only most vital individual within the historical past of girls’s sports activities.”
The 1973 match was the topic of a 2017 film starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
READ MORE: How Billie Jean King Led the Equal Pay for Play Battle