necessary spectacle : Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the tennis match that leveled the game
On September 20, 1973, Billie Jean King, the premier female tennis player of her era, defeated aging male former Wimbledon champion and self-promoting hustler Bobby Riggs in a nationally televised match ballyhooed as the "Battle of the Sexes." At the time, it seemed like made-for-television tripe, but there were larger issues at stake, many understood only by King and a handful of supporters. Roberts explores the events leading up to the match as well as the subsequent consequences, both direct and indirect. Riggs had created a context for the match by proclaiming women players so inferior to men that the best woman couldn't beat an over-the-hill hustler. His first challenge match with a woman, against Australian Margaret Court, seemed to prove his point as he demolished one of the top-tier female stars. But Court was no Billie Jean. Roberts explores the match in terms of its cultural significance, its impact on Title IX legislation, and the rise of feminism--in sports and otherwise--in the last quarter of the twentieth century. She also profiles the personalities involved, particularly the principals, King, Riggs, and Court.