In a momentous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, Billie Jean King emerged victorious over Bobby Riggs fifty years ago.
The tennis match garnered the highest viewership ever recorded, reaching approximately 90 million people globally. It also served as a significant event in the fight for women’s rights.
Fifty-five-year-old Riggs, who was once ranked as the top player in the world, boasted that he could still defeat the best female players in the sport despite his advanced age. He proved this by easily defeating 30-year-old Margaret Court in a match with scores of 6-2 and 6-1, just months before his famous match against Billie Jean King.
Following his victory against Court, Riggs issued a challenge to King, a 29-year-old reigning champion responsible for founding the women’s tour that year. King had also threatened to boycott the US Open unless male and female champions were awarded equal prize money. She courageously accepted Riggs’ challenge and was resolute in her mission to advocate for women globally.
According to King, not winning that match would have had a setback of 50 years for us. It would have greatly impacted the women’s tour and the confidence of all women.
On September 20, 1973, the game occurred at the Astrodome in Houston with over 30,000 individuals present. King emerged victorious with a score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and was rewarded with $100,000. However, the true reward was the impact it had on women’s athletics and the battle for equal treatment.