WATCH: Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in tennis 44 years ago today
Sep. 20, 1973 was not a normal day in sports. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs squared off in The Battle of the Sexes — Round 2. Riggs had defeated Margaret Court a little over four months earlier, and King felt that she was playing for the pride of an entire gender. King defeated Riggs 6-4 6-3 6-3, cementing her place in tennis lore.
The match was a cultural phenomenon, thanks in no small part to Riggs’ arrogance. After his defeat of Court, Riggs taunted the female tennis population until King decided to accept his challenge. There was a winner-take-all $100,000 pot, and it had the largest audience in tennis history: 30,472 people turned up to the Houston Astrodome and 50 million Americans tuned into their televisions to watch the match. It had the aura of a boxing match, thanks in no small part to the showmanship of Riggs contrasting with the mild-mannered, confident air of King.
Many have tried to discredit the win. Some said that the match boiled down to age — King was 29 and Riggs was 55 — while others have said that Riggs threw the match to pay off a gambling debt. However, the effects of the match have lingered over decades. Men vs. womenin tennis, thanks in no small part to Serena Williams’ utter dominance in women’s tennis, but it seems unlikely we’ll be getting a Battle of the Sexes Round 3 any time soon.