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Billie Jean King Beats Bobby Riggs At Tennis (1973)

Billie Jean King Beats Bobby Riggs At Tennis (1973)

In 1973, Billie Jean King was already a tennis superstar, becoming the first female tennis player to win over $100,000 in prize money in one year. Bobbie Riggs, at the time a retired player and radio commentator, challenged King to a tennis match, in part to prove that women at their peak were not as skilled players as men who were well past their prime and therefore, did not deserve the same prize funds for winning tournaments. King accepted a $100,000 winner-takes-all match and began a media frenzy, with the game being dubbed ‘The Battle of The Sexes’. In the lead-up to the clash, King won her fifth Wimbledon title and threatened to boycott the U.S. Open if they refused to pay female players the same as males (this led to the tournament becoming the first in history to have pay equity). Riggs, on the other hand, reportedly spent much of his time partying and enjoying the spotlight. Over 90 million people worldwide watched in excitement as King dominated the game, ultimately winning 6–4, 6–3, 6–3 and far exceeding Riggs’s expectations. This was seen as a landmark moment for the women’s movement with King becoming an important figure in feminist history and Riggs would go on to have a permanent gambling residency in Las Vegas where he could indulge his love of gambling.

Learn more about tennis and have some fun with these Oomph! sports activities!

Activity Ideas:

  • Print off and enjoy our Wimbledon Activity Book – here 
  • Get active with our tennis-inspired big hitter game – here 
  • Make your own tennis trophy with our trophy craft – here 
  • Learn more about key moments in tennis history with this fascinating fact sheet – coming soon!