The Age Old Battle: Boys Versus Girls

First, let me apologize for my little absence. Researching and writing about Ted Bundy fried my brain.

That age old saying “Anything you can do; I can do better” is tossed around so often it is almost annoying. Siblings use it during childish arguments, friends use it when showing off for one another, even co-workers use it when they are trying to win over their boss. But I don’t believe it has ever been used more than often than it is between men and women. Yes, women have made quite a name for themselves in the world now. It wasn’t always like that, there was a time when women couldn’t vote, couldn’t go to school, they just stayed at home and were subservient to their husbands. Women did not matter in society, period. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame men, I don’t hate men, that is just the way things were.

By the time the 1920’s rolled around women were fed up, and the movement started. Flash forward to the 1960’s and women were living on their own, making careers for themselves, and just trying to live their best lives. One thing stayed the same though, people always felt men could do things better. Especially when it came to sports, men felt they could out play any woman. Sure, men are built different, taller, broader, and in most cases stronger. But that doesn’t mean they are good at what they do, and when they get beat by a woman their ego takes a hit. Prime example, one of my favorite quotes from the movie “The Sandlot”, “YOU PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL!” Intended to be used as an insult, but some take it as a compliment.  

Most sports have a women’s and men’s league. Mainly a safety issue, like I said men are usually much bigger than women. Can you imagine a woman getting trucked on a football field by a 325-pound defensive end? Personally, I would give them the damn ball, sir it is all yours. Unless it is J.J Watt, go ahead and truck me, he could knock me unconscious and when I came to, I would tell him thank you. My Dad reads my articles so I must say, I’m sorry Dad, I love you. 

The sport of tennis graced the world with ultimate boys versus girls show down with the scandal that was and still is, “The Battle of the Sexes.” Proving that at the end of the day men and women are on the same level, in the game of life. 

Bobby Riggs had been one of the world’s top tennis players throughout the 1940’s. He was ranked number one in the world, three times, and had six major titles under his belt by the time his career had ended. After retiring in 1951, Riggs remained a master promoter of himself and of tennis. In 1973 this asshat, I mean this man opened his mouth and claimed that the female game of tennis was inferior to the male game. He claimed that even at the age of fifty-five he could beat any female tennis player in the world. 

He decided to challenge female tennis star Billie Jean King to a match. When she declined Margaret, Court stepped up to the plate, well, the net. At the time Court was thirty years old and was looking at her sixth time being ranked number one in the world. Their May 13, 1973 (Mother’s Day) match was televised by CBS Sports and five thousand fans were in attendance. Riggs descended the stadium steps and offered Court a Mother’s Day flower, which she accepted while curtsying. Nah bruh, take your flower and shove it up your ass. 

Bobby Riggs used his drop shots and lobs. Like my fancy terminology? Don’t be impressed, my Dad played tennis, that’s how I know words like that. Keeping Margaret Court off balance and beating her 6-2,6-1. This landed Riggs on the cover of both Time Magazine and Sport Illustrated. Riggs was in the limelight and used his win over Court as a way to taunt all female tennis players. So, Billie Jean King, who had turned down Riggs challenge the first time was now like, Ok, I get it let me think I guess it’s my turn. 

This time the match was going to be televised on ABC during prime-time hours. The match had a winner takes all prize of $100,000 ($576,000 today). Again, don’t be impressed, I googled it. The media dubbed this “The Battle of the Sexes”. They got real carried away with this one Ya’ll. King entered the court in the style of Cleopatra on a feather seat thing, carried by four shirtless, muscular men. Ok queen, I see you. Riggs followed in a rickshaw drawn by a group of models. He presented King with a Sugar Daddy lollipop and she presented him with a squealing piglet. Ok, I’m lowkey jealous because I love both of those things.  

Let’s not act surprised, we knew it was going to happen, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, winning straight sets, 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. She was behind for a short period of time in the first set when Riggs broke her serve, again, don’t be impressed by my fancy words, like I said, my Dad played tennis. We also watched A LOT of it when I was growing up. King used this as motivation, Breaking Riggs serve right back, and again later in the match to close out the set. In a 2015 interview King admits that most people don’t even remember her being down early on in the match, just her victory.

More than a few critics were unimpressed with Billie Jean King’s win, as she was twenty-six years younger than him, putting her at an unfair advantage. Claiming the match was more a battle of youth rather than of the sexes. The match had an audience of an estimated fifty million in the United States. and ninety million worldwide. The attendance in the Houston Astrodome was 30,472; as of 2012, it remains the largest audience to see a tennis match in the United States. After the match ended people had questions, the main on being, did Billie Jean win fair and square or was the match rigged (no pun intended)?  

There is wide spread speculation that Bobby Riggs intentionally lost the match, based on his unusually poor play and large number of unforced errors, in order to win large sums of money that he had bet against himself as a way to pay off his gambling debts. You can’t do that by the way, it’s illegal to bet on yourself during a sporting event, but okay. Guys, it’s so juicy here, so juicy and so crazy. On August 23, 2013, ESPN released an article titled “Outside the Lines”. It featured a man who had been silent on the matter for forty years. The man said that he heard several members of the Mafia talking about Riggs throwing the match in exchange for cancelling his gambling debt to the mob. 

We don’t know if that is true or if the guy is just blowing smoke up our ass, but it made a nice scandal that got people’s attention. King viewed the match as more than a publicity stunt, feeling that beating Riggs was important both for women’s tennis and for the women’s liberation movement as a whole. Stating in a later interview; “I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s tour and affect all women’s self-esteem.” She believed she had to work to help win sexual equality in the world of sports. Billie Jean was part of the Original 9, which formed the Virginia Slims Series, created because the women wanted to end inequality of pay between male and female victors. These nine women created their own tournaments and played wherever they could. Eventually this turned into the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). 

This was not the end of the “Battle of the Sexes” in the world on tennis and nineteen years later in 1992, Tennis superstars Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors took to the court. Before agreeing to a match against Connors Navratilova had previously turned down invitations to take on John McEnroe and Ilie Năstase, as she considered them undignified. I don’t know much about the latter but the former was a cry baby, little bitch, who threw hissy fits when he didn’t get his way. Much like a popular NFL quarterback we know of, what was his name? Oh yeah, Tom Brady. Connors called the match a war while Navratilova called it a battle of egos. Monica Seles who was the top- ranking female tennis player at the time was the first choice to go up again Connors but she declined. 

Friday, September 25, 1992, the match was televised on pay-per-view. This match had a hybrid rule set up. Taking rules from both the men’s and women’s tennis leagues, an attempt to make the match more competitive. That is the other things the rules of women’s sports are “dumbed down”, they allow the men to play much harder and dirtier than the women. Connors was allowed only one serve per point, and Navratilova was allowed to hit into half of the doubles alleys. Each player received a $650,000 guarantee, with a further $500,000 for the winner, so win or lose they each walked away with an insane amount of money.  

In the end after Navratilova had eight double faults and thirty-six unforced errors Connors won the match, 7–5, 6–2. There have been many other “Battle of the Sexes” matches over the years that have not been as widely publicized, one of the more recent ones was in October 2013. When one of my favorite players Novak Djokovic went up against Li Na. It was played a light hearted mini exhibition match, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the China Open. Djokovic clowned around to the amusement of the crowd, and at one point swapped places with a ball boy. Li was given a 30–0 ( 30-love) advantage at the start of each service game, and she went on to win 3–2. 

In 2013, Andy Murray responded to a Twitter user who asked whether he would consider challenging Serena Williams, saying, “I’d be up for it. Why not?” Williams also reacted positively to the suggestion, remarking “That would be fun. I doubt I’d win a point, but that would be fun.” That match never came to fruition.  

In this day and age, I am actually surprised that we still battle with which sex is “superior”. Why bother who get to stand in front when you should be standing side by side? Sure, each sex had its own advantages and disadvantages, but in life, what doesn’t? Neither side should be put on a pedestal. Sit side by side on the throne and reign together. After all, teamwork makes the dream work. 

Billie Jean King & Bobby Riggs

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent article. I didn’t watch the match at the time, but read a few articles about about it. I had also heard the bobby threw the match, but had no idea as to why.
    Enjoyed it immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

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