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On This Day

September 20, 1973




“BATTLE OF THE SEXES”

90M across the globe watched Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in what is still one of the most-watched tennis matches of all time.

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Battle of the Sexes

Riggs (55), a tennis champion and self-proclaimed male chauvinist, challenged King (29) a year earlier.

After the match, Riggs said “Billie Jean was just too strong for me. She was too quick in the exchanges. I thought I had her out of court many times but she made the shots.

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Why King Matters

In 1971, King was the first female athlete to win over 100K in prizes.

In 1972, Congress passed Title IX, banning gender discrimination in school programs (including sports) that receive federal fund$.

After her victory against Riggs, King said “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match.”

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King’s Lasting Legacy

  • Ranked #1 in women’s tennis worldwide six times
  • Awarded 39 Grand Slams & the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Founded Women’s Sports Foundation & magazine
  • First female with a major sports arena named in her honor

Her advocacy for gender equality on and off the court continues.

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“We always put our hands up for Billie. We love her. She has a tremendous history, not just in women’s tennis, but in leading rights for people, in general, no matter who they were.”

Venus Williams, April 2018, after joining the advisory board at the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit founded by King aimed at eliminating workplace inequalities & promoting diversity.
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King recently sat down for her first television interview since Serena Williams alleged sexism at the US Open. King said sexism still exists in tennis, but that "crisis creates opportunity" and this is an opportunity to get things right.

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