The Battle of the Sexes

The tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome on September 20, 1973, captivated America and was a triumph for women’s athletics. Platform tennis benefitted with an increase in participation by women.

King entered the Astrodome in Cleopatra style, carried aloft in a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men dressed in the style of ancient slaves. Riggs followed in a rickshaw drawn by a bevy of scantily-clad models. Riggs presented King with a giant lollipop and she gave him a piglet named Larimore Hustle.

Rather than playing her own usual aggressive game, King mostly hugged the baseline, easily handling Riggs’s lobs and soft shots, making Riggs cover the entire court as she ran him from side to side, and beating him at his own defensive game. After quickly falling behind from the baseline, where he had intended to play, King forced Riggs to change to a serve-and-volley game. Even from the net, the result was the same: King defeated him, 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.

Source: Selena Roberts, A ray of progress for women as Battle of the Sexes turns 35, Sports Illustrated, 9/20/2008. Bobby Riggs Vs Billie Jean King,