A 1970’s Time Capsule

Pop Culture

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The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

King Vs. Riggs, The Battle of the Sexes

The women’s liberation movement was beginning and on May 13, 1973, tennis stars Bobby Riggs and Margaret Court faced off in a $10,000 winner-take-all challenge match. Bobby Riggs was 55-years-old and a tennis champion from the late 1930s and 40s.  He was known to be skeptical of women’s talents on the tennis court. The event was branded the “battle of the sexes.”   It was Mother’s Day and the match was televised internationally.  It was held on Riggs’ home turf, the San Vincente Country Club in Ramona, California, northeast of San Diego and proceeds were promised to the American Diabetes Association.
Bobby Riggs vs. Margaret Court

Bobby Riggs vs. Margaret Court

Bobby Riggs had originally proposed a male-female match-up to Billie Jean King, whom he dubbed the “leading women’s libber of tennis.” King ignored the offer, but Australian Margaret Court, who had won 89 of her last 92 matches and was the leading money-winner on the women’s professional tour, accepted. Leading up to the match, Riggs loudly and consistently belittled women’s tennis and its players to the media while Court, occupied with raising her one-year-old son, said little.

Court was a serve-and volley player, known for her tough play at the net. By contrast, Riggs was a baseliner, and it later became known that he had the court resurfaced to slow the game, giving him time to wind up and put more power into his stroke. (What an upstanding guy 😦 ) The slow surface immediately put Court at a disadvantage. Riggs lobbed Court’s shots back to her, breaking the rhythm she was accustomed to on the hard-hitting women’s tour. Rattled, she lost the match, 6-2, 6-1.  Soon this would be known as the first battle of the sexes because a much more wel

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the leadup to the Battle of the Sexes.

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the leadup to the Battle of the Sexes.

The Battle of the Sexes

The Battle of the Sexes

I had never heard of the first Battle of the Sexes but what came next I do remember.  The moment the match ended, Riggs again challenged Billie Jean King. She accepted, and their $100,000 winner-take-all match—dubbed by some “the libber vs. the lobber”—took place on September 20, 1973, in front of a sold-out Houston Astrodome crowd. The 29-year-old King prevailed, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. At a news conference after the match, Riggs explained the loss: “She was too good, too fast. She returned all my passing shots and made great plays off them… I was trying to play my game, but I couldn’t.”

After Riggs’ death at age 77 in 1995, King complimented her formal rival and his probably accidental contribution to the advancement of sexual equality: “Our ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match helped to advance the game of tennis and women everywhere.”

A to Z on the Music Charts

Killing Me Softly With His Song by Roberta Flack reached number 1 on Billboard Hot 100 on February 24, 1973 and remained there for five weeks.

A to Z At the Movies

The top grossing film of 1979 and number 19 for the decade, Kramer vs. Kramer was a film that told the story of a married couple’s divorce and its impact on everyone involved, including the couple’s young son. It received five Academy Awards at the 52nd Academy Awards in 1980, in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.


All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.

5 responses

  1. it’s funny. even though i’m 80s obsessed, a lot of tv and movies overlap in my mind from the 70s and 80s. well for tv, a lot of shows ran in the late 70s through the early 80s and that’s when i was a kid. but i thought kramer vs kramer was early 80s


  2. Birgit says:

    Bobby Riggs was such an ass! I’m glad Billie Jean King kicked his butt. I saw Kramer vs Kramer at the theatre and liked it except for Meryl Streep. I thought she was so drippy and dull and thought for sure she would disappear…..boy was I wrong.