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First Battle of the Sexes

First Battle of the Sexes

On May 13, 1973, throughout the first years of the women’s liberation movement, tennis stars Bobby Riggs and Margaret Court face off in a $10,000 winner-take-all challenge match. The 55-year-old Riggs, a tennis champion from the late 1930s and 40s who was simply notoriously skeptical of women’s talents on the tennis court, branded the contest a “battle of the sexes.” The match, that was played on Mother’s Day and televised internationally, happened on Riggs’ residence turf, the San Vincente Country Club in Ramona, California, northeast of San Diego. Proceeds were promised to the American Diabetes Association.

Bobby Riggs had initially proposed a male-female match-up to Billie Jean King, whom he dubbed the “leading women’s libber of tennis.” King ignored the provide, but Australian Margaret Court, who had won 89 of her final 92 matches and was the very best cash-winner on the women’s specialist tour, accepted. Leading around the match, Riggs loudly and regularly belittled women’s tennis and its own players to the media while Court, occupied with raising her one particular-year-old son, said tiny.

Court was a serve-and volley player, known on her behalf challenging play at the web. By contrast, Riggs was a baseliner, also it later became recognized that the court was had by him resurfaced to slow the overall game, giving him time and energy to find yourself and place a whole many more power into his stroke. The slow surface immediately place Court at a disadvantage. Riggs lobbed Court’s shots back again to her, breaking the rhythm she was familiar with on the tough-hitting women’s tour. Rattled, the match was lost by her, 6-2, 6-1.

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The moment the match ended, Riggs once more challenged Billie Jean King. She accepted, and their $100,000 winner-take-all match-dubbed by some “the libber vs. the lobber”-took put on September 20, 1973, before a sold-out Houston Astrodome crowd. The 29-year-old King prevailed, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. At a news conference following match, Riggs explained losing: “She was too good, too fast. She returned all my passing shots and made great plays off them… I was trying to play my game, but I couldn’t.”

After Riggs’ death at age 77 in 1995, King complimented her formal rival and his possibly accidental contribution to the advancement of sexual equality: “Our ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match helped to advance the game of tennis and women everywhere.”

Source: History