On today in historical past, September 20, 1973, tennis star Billie Jean King received the “Battle of the Sexes” in Houston.

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Pioneering tennis star Billie Jean King defeated former males’s champion, Bobby Riggs, in a extremely publicized match, referred to as the “Battle of the Sexes,” on today in historical past, September 20, 1973 – 50 years in the past.

This made-for-TV sports activities spectacle proved to be a watershed second within the battle for girls’s equality in athletics.

King received the tennis match in straight units (6-4, 6-3, 6-3) in entrance of greater than 30,000 spectators on the Houston Astrodome and tens of millions extra throughout the nation and the world on tv.

“Not a day glided by with out somebody asking me about that match,” King advised Fox Information Digital in an e-mail remark final 12 months, on the forty ninth anniversary of her win.

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King’s web site concerning the match notes that “fifty million individuals in the USA and an estimated 90 million individuals worldwide tuned in to look at the match.” It was “one of the vital watched televised sporting occasions ever” and “many have by no means watched a tennis match earlier than or since”.

Earlier than the prime-time broadcast, each athletes posed for the cameras.

Billie Jean King

On September 20, 1973, 4 males carry tennis star Billie Jean King onto the court docket to take part within the “Battle of the Sexes,” a tv spectacle between her and 55-year-old tennis star Bobby Riggs. (Getty Photos)

“King entered Cleopatra-style on a golden litter carried by males dressed as historical slaves, whereas Riggs arrived in a wheelbarrow pulled by mannequins,” Historical past.com wrote.

In style sportscaster Howard Cosell referred to as the sport, including an air of grandeur to the festivities.

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King, who was 29 on the time, was within the midst of a dominant run.

The California native received the French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon in 1972.

She defended her Wimbledon title simply two months earlier than the “Battle of the Sexes”, whereas profitable eight different Grand Slam tournaments in her profession.

Billie Jean King

Within the “Battle of the Sexes”, Billie Jean King emerged victorious and was surrounded by followers and media after defeating Bobby Riggs on the Astrodome, in Houston, Texas, on September 20, 1973. (Tony Triolo/Sports activities Illustrated through Getty Photos)

Riggs, 55 through the match, was the world’s greatest tennis participant in 1946 and 1947.

He made his grand entrance into the worldwide highlight, profitable Wimbledon as a 21-year-old in 1939.

Riggs, who died in 1995, was additionally an outspoken chauvinist who publicly disparaged arithmetic.

He gave King a large lollipop earlier than the match that mentioned “Sugar Daddy.”

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His abrasive fame made King’s victory style that a lot sweeter for her supporters world wide.

Along with her lifelong acclaim, she obtained a $100,000 payday in a winner-take-all competitors.

Tennis star Bobby Riggs

Tennis participant Bobby Riggs holds a “Sugar Daddy” signal as he’s carried onto the court docket by younger ladies. He performed a tennis match towards Billie Jean King referred to as the “Battle of the Sexes” on September 20, 1973, on the Houston Astrodome. (Getty Photos)

“This occasion was like no different earlier than,” longtime Sports activities Illustrated photographer Neil Lever mentioned in a July retrospective of the occasion.

“Nobody had ever held a tennis match on a court docket like this. It was a Hollywood manufacturing.”

Regardless of their public showmanship, the matches served to legitimize the talent of the competitions.

It was performed only one 12 months after the passage of the Training Amendments of 1972, greatest identified for Title IX, which opened athletic alternatives to females in school.

“It was about social change, far more than tennis,” King typically mentioned.

French Open 2022 Press Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King speaks to the media on Day 14 at Roland Garros on June 4, 2022, in Paris, France. (Robert Prang/Getty Photos)

She noticed it as a triumph for feminine athletes in all places.

She mentioned, as her web site notes, “I assumed it could set us again 50 years if I did not win that match. It will wreck the ladies’s (tennis) tour and have an effect on the conceit of all ladies. Successful No. 55 “The year-old was not attractive For me. The fun was exposing plenty of new individuals to tennis. “

“It was about social change, far more than tennis.”

In 1971, King obtained greater than $100,000 in prize cash. She is believed to be the primary athlete to succeed in this achievement.

“Nevertheless, vital pay disparities remained between female and male athletes, and King lobbied onerous for change,” Historical past.com wrote.

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

On September 20, 1973, a crowd of 30,472 and an estimated tv viewers of 40 million – the most important reside viewers ever for a prime-time tennis match – witnessed Billie Jean King, 29, defeat Bobby Riggs, 55, in straight units. 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, within the “Battle of the Sexes.” (ANN LIMONGELLO/Disney Basic Leisure Content material through Getty Photos)

“In 1973, the US Open turned the primary main tennis match to award the identical quantity of prize cash to winners of each genders.”

To today King stays a pioneer for many individuals world wide.

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As she wrote in her autobiography, “All In,” revealed in 2021, she advised her mom when she was somewhat woman: “Mother, I will do one thing great in my life — I do know it! Watch.”

This included being the No. 1 tennis participant on the planet.


In 1973, she based the Girls’s Tennis Affiliation. In 2006 she turned the primary girl to have a serious sporting venue named in her honor (USTA Billie Jean King Nationwide Tennis Middle, house of the US Open); In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama, amongst her different accomplishments.

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