This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 102 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, 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 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. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.
Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California) is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an advocate against sexism in sports and society. She is known for “The Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men’s singles champion.
King is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis, which she founded with her former husband, Lawrence King.
Despite King’s achievements at the world’s biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers her for her win over Bobby Riggs in 1973.
Riggs had been a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1939, and was considered the World No. 1 male tennis player for 1941, 1946, and 1947. He then became a self-described tennis “hustler” who played in promotional challenge matches. In 1973, he took on the role of male chauvinist. Claiming that the women’s game was so inferior to the men’s game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players, he challenged and defeated Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. King, who previously had rejected challenges from Riggs, then accepted a lucrative financial offer to play him.