BILLIE JEAN KING, the champions women’s tennis player in the 1960s and 70s, is featured in a film charting when she played male player Bobby Briggs.
Not only did the 12-time Grand Slam winner rise to Briggs’ contention the women’s game was inferior, she handsomely beat him.
The “Battle of the Sexes” was a huge televised spectacle in 1973, and now a film of the same name starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs.
Here, SunSport gives you the lowdown about female sporting icon King, and the man vs woman clash that had all the world talking…
Who is Billie Jean King?
Billie Jean King was born on November 22 1943 in Long Beach, California, where she learnt to play tennis at an early age in the baking sun on public courts.
An aggressive, hard-hitting net-specialist with excellent speed around the court, the right-hander quickly became world number won and one of the best players in the world.
Billie Jean married Larry King in Long Beach, California in 1965, but they divorced in 1987 – however, it was during the marriage she realise she was lesbian.
And in 1981, when the relationship with another woman was publicised, she became the first prominent professional female athlete to come out.
She now works tirelessly to promote equal rights between sexes, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, while also working as a tennis commentator.
How does Billie Jean King compare to other female tennis stars?
One of the greatest female players ever, she won 12 singles Grand Slams, becoming the dominant force in the game in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
She won a record 20 career titles at Wimbledon – six singles, 10 women’s doubles, and four mixed doubles and also took part in the Federation Cup, representing the USA.
Her victory at the French Open in 1972 made her only the fifth woman in tennis history to win the singles titles at all four Grand Slam events, a “career Grand Slam.
Also in 1972, King was the joint winner of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award and was one of the Time Persons of the Year in 1975 – and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990.
She is right up there in the same breath as the likes of Margaret Court, Martina Navratilove, Chris Evert and Serena Williams.
What was the Battle of the Sexes?
The Battle of the Sexes were three notable tennis matches between a male and a female player in the 1970s.
Bobby Riggs had been one of the world’s top tennis players in the 1940s and won six major titles in his career – but by the age of 55 said that the womens’ game was inferior and even at his current he could still beat any of the top female players.
Riggs first played Margaret Court in May 1973, beating her comfortably in two sets 6-2 6-1 – but in September that he took on Billie Jean King.
That was not so easy for Riggs, who was swept aside 6-4 6-3 6-3 by King, even though she was 26 years younger than her opponent.
It was a huge fanfare, especially when King entered the arena in Houston, Texas carried aloft in a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men dressed in the style of ancient slaves.
But for King, that match was more than just beating Riggs. She was a women’s activist and believed in equal pay for men and women, and wanted men to respect women more.
There was a third Battle of the Sexes match in 1992, when Jimmy Connors beat Martina Navratilova.
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