KING VS RIGGS: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

48 years ago today, Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes.
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Photo: The Guardian.

This week in 1973, in a highly publicised “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former number 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist aka “tennis hustler”, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. “The best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot. I’ll tell you why I’ll win: women don’t have the emotional stability.”

The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. “A strange combination of sociological milestone and circus,” as Newsweek called it.

King beat Riggs, won in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and pocketed $100,000 winner-takes-all purse. King’s achievement not only helped legitimise women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general. In the same year, the U.S. Open became the first major tennis tournament to hand out the same amount of prize money to winners of both sexes.

The 1973 match was the subject of a 2017 movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes.

Read also SOFTEXCORE: RIOT GRRRL, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, REVOLUSI.

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Text: History, Newsweek.

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Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
Rudolf Dethu

Rudolf Dethu

Music journalist, writer, radio DJ, socio-political activist, creative industry leader, and a qualified librarian, Rudolf Dethu is heavily under the influence of the punk rock philosophy. Often tagged as this country’s version of Malcolm McLaren—or as Rolling Stone Indonesia put it ‘the grand master of music propaganda’—a name based on his successes when managing Bali’s two favourite bands, Superman Is Dead and Navicula, both who have become two of the nation’s biggest rock bands.
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