On today in 1973, in a extremely publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that females have been inferior, they couldn’t handle the strain of the overall game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was an enormous media occasion, witnessed personally by a lot more than 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million Television viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by males dressed as ancient slaves, despite the fact that Riggs found its way to a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell named the match, where King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not merely helped legitimize women’s specialist tennis and female athletes, nonetheless it was regarded as a victory for women’s rights generally.
King came to be Billie Jean Moffitt on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California. Growing up, she was a star softball player to her parents encouraged her to use tennis prior, that was regarded a whole many more ladylike. She excelled at the activity and in 1961, at age 17, during her 1st outing to Wimbledon, the women’s were won by her doubles title. King would rack up a complete of 20 Wimbledon victories, in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, a lot more than the span of her trailblazing career. In 1971, she became the initial female athlete to earn more than $100,000 in prize profit an individual season. However, significant spend disparities still existed among men and females athletes and King lobbied hard for alter. In 1973, the U.S. Open became the initial key tennis tournament at hand out the same quantity of prize money to winners of every sexes.
In 1972, King became the 1st woman to be chosen Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year” and in 1973, she became the original president of the Women’s Tennis Association. King also established a sports foundation and magazine for women and a team tennis league. In 1974, as a coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, an individual of the teams in the league, she became the original woman to head up an experienced co-ed team.
The “mother of modern sports” retired from tennis with 39 Grand Slam career titles. She remained active as a coach, advocate and commentator for women’s sports along with other causes. In 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed in King’s honor. During the dedication ceremony, tennis great John McEnroe known as King “the single most important person in the history of women’s sports.”