Thirty five years after “The Battle of the Sexes” Billie Jean King wondered what “I got myself into.”
Weekends are the prime time for the movie industry and the film industry has put out a sports related movie out based on what was a 1973 made for an audience spectacle called the Battle of the Sexes which pitted an over-the-hill one-time tennis champion turned hustler Bobby Riggs and an aging but still near the top of the line women’s player Billie Jean King. The premise was that the 55-year-old man Riggs could beat the top women’s tennis player of the day which was the then 29-year-old King. It was far more show biz than a legitimate tennis match up with Riggs playing up every male superiority stereotype of the day and King fighting for women’s rights. In 2008, Billie Jean King said in retrospect, it was silly event and asked what did I get into? She thought the weight of the world was on her shoulders in what really was a made for TV show. But it had all the trappings of a 1973 big event, like a heavyweight boxing championship staged at what was then known as the Eighth World of the World, the Houston Astrodome. Billie Jean King would beat Bobby Riggs.
Billie Jean King was a civil rights pioneer. Bobby Riggs was a hustler. Billie Jean King in 1973 despite pushing for changes could not open a credit card in the United States because federal law mandated that a man, Billie Jean King’s husband in this case, had to co-sign the card despite the fact she was making a lot of money. Billie Jean King in 1974 could finally open a credit card in her own name after the law was changed. Billie Jean King’s showdown with Bobby Riggs came a little more than a year after President Richard Nixon signed Title IX which gave women more college education rights. The Battle of the Sexes was a TV show.