Billie Jean King

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Posted by motoman 04/02/2009 @ 12:07

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Six women who beat the boys - CNN
In 1973, Billie Jean King was 29 years old and the reigning queen of women's tennis. In an era when female athletes were paid significantly less than their male counterparts, King still managed to earn $100000 in 1971. Bobby Riggs had won Wimbledon...
Silverman, Court, Berman advance - Lower Hudson Journal news
By Matthew Ng • • May 29, 2009 NEW YORK - The next 24 hours will be a little crazy for all those playing at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the state boys tennis championship. But for Garrett DeBease and Kelly...
John Jeansonne - Newsday
It was Billie Jean King, the godmother of women's professional tennis, who identified the "champion's mentality" as "really not fun not being No. 1. And, once the top ranking is gone - once no longer King or Queen - it is not so easy to find a purpose...
King, McEnroe play tennis on floating court -
MATCH ON: John McEnroe (L) and Billie Jean King (R) get ready for a USTA promotional event on a barge in the Hudson River. is on mobile now. Read news, watch videos be a Citizen Journalist. Log on to NOW!...
CAMH exhibition puts iconic Astrodome on silver screen - Houston Chronicle
Despite hosting such landmark events as the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, an Elvis Presley concert that broke attendance records and Evel Knievel's 13-car motorcycle jump, the “Taj Mahal of Sports” was a...
On Tonight: Another Talent Tested, 'Betty' Finale - Hartford Courant
Other guest stars include Bernadette Peters, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Ralph Macchio, Rachel Maddow and Billie Jean King. This will be the final pair of episodes in its current time slot. Come the fall, "Ugly Betty" will return on Friday nights....
Zvonareva named promoter of gender equality by UNESCO - Press Trust of India
The Russian joins the likes of American multiple Grand Slam winner Venus Williams, French glamour girl Tatiana Golovin and Tour founder and pioneering tennis player Billie Jean King in the list of Promoters of Gender Equality. Billie Jean King was...
Clippers Begin Quest Xaverian Pursuing Second Straight Catholic Crown - Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Ciccone, who was honored by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz following his first junior title, also captured the 2007 ATA Boys' 16 singles national championship at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. He also won the ATA Doubles...
2nd Business Bowl a battle of sexes - New Hampshire Business Review
Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs was just an appetizer. The main course in the battle of the sexes will actually take place at 7:30 pm on Friday, June 5, as a team of six female business professionals takes on a team of six male business professionals...
Queerview television guide for May 21 -
Ugly Betty wraps up its third season tonight with a two-hour finale that includes plenty of guest stars including Billie Jean King, Antonio Sabato Jr., Rachel Maddow and... dah-dum! ... Christopher Gorham. Meanwhile, expect some late night liveliness...

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King by David Shankbone.jpg

Infobox last updated on: February 7, 2008.

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt) (born November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California) is a retired 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 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.

Billie Jean King, née Moffitt, was born into a conservative Methodist family, the daughter of a firefighter father and housewife mother. Her younger brother Randy Moffitt grew up to become a professional baseball player, pitching for 12 years in the major leagues for the San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, and Toronto Blue Jays.

King attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School. After graduating, she attended California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA) because her parents could not afford Stanford or UCLA. Even at CSULA, King had to work two jobs to pay her way.

She married Lawrence King in Long Beach, California on September 17, 1965. In 1971, she had an abortion, revealed to the public in a Ms. Magazine article in 1972 by Lawrence without consulting Billie Jean in advance. King said in her 1982 autobiography that she decided to have an abortion because she believed her marriage was not solid enough to bring a child into her family. Billie Jean and Lawrence divorced in 1987.

I wanted to tell the truth but my parents were homophobic and I was in the closet. As well as that, I had people tell me that if I talked about what I was going through, it would be the end of the women's tour. I couldn't get a closet deep enough. I've got a homophobic family, a tour that will die if I come out, the world is homophobic and, yeah, I was homophobic. If you speak with gays, bisexuals, lesbians and transgenders, you will find a lot of homophobia because of the way we all grew up. One of my big goals was always to be honest with my parents and I couldn't be for a long time. I tried to bring up the subject but felt I couldn't. My mother would say, "We’re not talking about things like that", and I was pretty easily stopped because I was reluctant anyway. I ended up with an eating disorder that came from trying to numb myself from my feelings. I needed to surrender far sooner than I did. At the age of 51, I was finally able to talk about it properly with my parents and no longer did I have to measure my words with them. That was a turning point for me as it meant I didn't have regrets any more.

She is a friend of Elton John, and was a friend of the late Charles M. Schulz.

In 1999, King was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Philip Morris Incorporated, garnering some criticism from anti-tobacco groups. She no longer serves in that capacity.

King appeared as a judge on Law & Order, one of her favorite television shows, on April 27, 2007.

King currently resides in New York and Chicago with partner Ilana Kloss.

The difference between me at my peak and me in the last few years of my career is that when I was the champion I had the ultimate in confidence. When I decided, under pressure ... that I had to go with my very weakest shot - forehand down the line - I was positive that I could pull it off ... when it mattered the most. Even more than that; going into a match, I knew it was my weakest shot, and I knew in a tight spot my opponent was going to dare me to hit it, and I knew I could hit it those two or three or four times in a match when I absolutely had to. ... The cliche is to say that ... champions play the big points better. Yes, but that's only the half of it. The champions play their weaknesses better....

In 1959, the 15-year-old King had her Grand Slam debut at the U.S. Championships, losing to Justina Bricka in the first round 4–6, 7–5, 6–4 after having had a match point. In July and August, King played four of the tournaments that comprised the "Eastern Grass Court Circuit." At the Middle States Grass Court Championships in Philadelphia, King lost to Nancy Richey Gunter in the quarterfinals. At the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships, King lost to Karen Hantze Susman in the quarterfinals. At the Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, King defaulted her quarterfinal match with Kathy Chabot while trailing 6–1, 1–2. At the Eastern Grass Court Championships, King lost to Maria Bueno in the third round 6–4, 6–4. In her final adult tournament of the year, King lost (7–5 in the third set) to Ann Haydon Jones in the third round of the Pacific Southwest Championships.

In 1960, King won her first adult tournament title at the Philadelphia and District Women's Grass Court Championships, defeating Karen Hantze Susman in the quarterfinals. At the U.S. Championships, King was defeated in the third round by seventh-seeded Bernice Carr Vukovich of South Africa 7–5, 6–4. King lost four significant matches to veteran players. In May, she lost in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Championships 6–4, 2–6, 6–4 to 43 year old Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney, who was the first American to win the singles title at the Australian Championships in 1938. Two months later, King lost in the second round of the U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships 1–6, 6–0, 6–3 to 35 year old but second-seeded Dorothy Head Knode, who went on to win the title for the fourth and final time. The next week, King was defeated in the semifinals of the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships 6–4, 2–6, 6–2 by 42 year old Margaret Osborne duPont, a six-time Grand Slam singles champion. In her last tournament of the year, King, the top seed, lost in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Hard Court Championships to Cheney 6–3, 4–6, 6–3.

King first gained international recognition in 1961 when, at age 17, she won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon in her first attempt while partnering Karen Hantze Susman. Although unseeded, King and Susman defeated the top seeded team of Renee Schuurman Haygarth and Sandra Reynolds Price in the quarterfinals and the third seeded team of Margaret Court and Jan Lehane O'Neill in the final. In second round singles play at Wimbledon, fifth-seeded Yola Ramírez Ochoa defeated King in a two-day match on Centre Court 11–9, 1–6, 6–2 after King had received a first round bye. Earlier in the year, King lost to Susman in the final of the Southern California Championships but successfully defended her title in Philadelphia and won the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships for the first time. Christine Truman Janes, the fourth seed, defeated the unseeded King in the second round of the U.S. Championships 6–3, 3–6, 6–2. At the Pacific Southwest Championships, King lost in the third round to Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (then 45 years old) 6–1, 3–6, 6–3 for the third consecutive time. Playing in the Wightman Cup for the first time, King defeated Ann Haydon Jones but lost to Janes.

In 1962, King lost to Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (now 45 years old) for the fourth time in four career matches, this time in the semifinals of the Ojai Valley Tennis Tournament. The following week, Karen Hantze Susman defeated King in the final of the Southern California Championships for the second consecutive year. In only her second career singles match at Wimbledon, King upset Margaret Court, the World No. 1 and top seed, in a second round match by attacking Court's forehand after Court had led in the third set 3–0, 5–2, and served at 5–3 (30–15). This was the first time in Wimbledon history that the women's top seed had lost her first match. King eventually reached the quarterfinals, losing to fifth-seeded Ann Haydon Jones 6–3, 6–1. One month later, Court defeated King in the semifinals of both the Pennsylvania Lawn Tennis Championships (6–4, 6–3) and the Eastern Grass Court Championships (6–3, 6–4). At the Wightman Cup, King and Susman lost their only match of the tie to the team of Jones and Christine Truman Janes. At the U.S. Championships, King got injured and retired from her first round match with Victoria Palmer while leading 8–6, 0–5. King ended her year by losing to Renee Schuurman Haygarth in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Southwest Championships.

In 1963, King won the Southern California Championships for the first time, defeating Darlene Hard in the final. At Wimbledon, the unseeded King defeated seventh-seeded Maria Bueno in the quarterfinals 6–2, 7–5 and third-seeded Ann Haydon Jones in the semifinals 6–4, 6–4 before losing the final to top-seeded Margaret Court. The following week, King won her first international title at the Irish Championships. In Wightman Cup competition, King defeated Christine Truman Janes 6–4, 19–17 and Jones. King was seeded third at the U.S. Championships but lost her fourth round match with unseeded Dierdre Catt Keller McMahon. At the year ending Pacific Southwest Championships, King defeated Jones and Bueno before losing to Hard in the final.

I was in my third year as a history major at Los Angeles State College.... I still had my dream of being Number 1 in tennis, but I had yet to win a major singles title. I finally realized that I would never know whether I could make it unless I made a commitment to play full-time. I was able to make that commitment when Robert Mitchell, the same businessman who had helped Margaret Smith , offered to pay my way to Australia so that I could train under the great Australian coach Mervyn Rose. I told my friends I was going to Australia to become the best player in the world. It was a frightening admission, but it helped to drive me. Merv Rose was exactly what I needed. He made radical alterations in my game, changing my swooping, wristy forehand and backhand into the crisp efficient strokes of a champion.

While in Australia, King played three tournaments to end the year, losing in the quarterfinals of the Queensland Grass Court Championships, the final of the New South Wales Championships (to Court), and the third round of the Victorian Championships.

In early 1965, King continued her 3-month tour of Australia. She lost in the final of the South Australian Championships and the first round of the Western Australia Championships. At the Federation Cup in Melbourne, King defeated Ann Haydon Jones to help the United States defeat the United Kingdom in the second round. However, Margaret Court again defeated King in the final. At the Australian Championships two weeks later, King lost to Court in the semifinals 6–1, 8–6. At Wimbledon, King lost in the semifinals for the third consecutive year, this time to Maria Bueno 6–4, 5–7, 6–3. King's last tournament of the year was the U.S. Championships, where she defeated Jones in the quarterfinals (16–14, 6–2) and Bueno in the semifinals. In the final, King led 5–3 in both sets, was two points from winning the first set, and had two set points in the second set before losing to Court 8–6, 7–5. King said that losing while being so close to winning was devastating, but the match proved to her that she was "good enough to be the best in the world. I'm going to win Wimbledon next year." King won six tournaments during the year. For the first time in 81 years, the annual convention of the United States Lawn Tennis Association overruled its ranking committee's recommendation to award King the sole U.S. No. 1 position and voted 59,810 to 40,966 to rank Nancy Richey Gunter and King as co-U.S. No. 1.

From 1966 through 1975, King won 32 of her career 39 Grand Slam titles, including all 12 of her Grand Slam singles titles, 9 of her 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 10 of her 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

Six of King's Grand Slam singles titles were at Wimbledon, four were at the U.S. Championships/Open, one was at the French Open, and one was at the Australian Championships. King reached the final of a Grand Slam singles tournament in 16 out of 25 attempts and had a 12–4 win–loss record in those finals. In the nine tournaments that she failed to reach the final, she was a losing semifinalist twice and a losing quarterfinalist five times. From 1971 through 1975, King won seven of the ten Grand Slam singles tournaments she played. She won the last seven Grand Slam singles finals she contested, six of them in straight sets and four of them against Evonne Goolagong Cawley. All but one of King's Grand Slam singles titles were on grass.

King's Grand Slam record from 1966 through 1975 was comparable to that of Margaret Court, her primary rival during these years. One or both of these women played 35 of the 40 Grand Slam singles tournaments held during this period, and together they won 24 of them. During this period, Court won 31 of her career 64 Grand Slam titles, including 12 of her 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 11 of her 19 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 8 of her 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Court reached the final of a Grand Slam singles tournament in 14 out of 25 attempts and had a 12–2 win–loss record in those finals. Court won 7 of the 12 Grand Slam finals she played against King during these years, including 2–1 in singles finals, 4–1 in women's doubles finals, and 1–3 in mixed doubles finals.

King was the year-ending World No. 1 in six of the ten years from 1966 through 1975. She was the year-ending World No. 2 in three of those years and the World No. 3 in the other year.

King won 97 of her career 129 singles titles during this period and was the runner-up in 36 other tournaments.

In 1966, King defeated Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney (then 49 years old) for the first time in five career matches, winning their semifinal at the Southern California Championships 6–0, 6–3. King also ended her nine match losing streak to Margaret Court by defeating her in the final of the South African Tennis Championships. At the Wightman Cup just before Wimbledon, King defeated Virginia Wade and Ann Haydon Jones. After thirteen unsuccessful attempts to win a Grand Slam singles title from 1959 through 1965, King at the age of 22 finally won the first of her six singles titles at Wimbledon and the first of twelve Grand Slam singles titles overall, defeating Court in the semifinals 6–3, 6–3 and Maria Bueno in the final. King credited her semifinal victory to her forehand down the line, a new shot in her repertoire. She also said that the strategy for playing Court is, "Simple. Just chip the ball back at her feet." At the U.S. Championships, an ill King was upset by Kerry Melville Reid in the second round.

King successfully defended her title at the South African Tennis Championships in 1967, defeating Maria Bueno in the final. She played the French Championships for the first time in her career, falling in the quarterfinals to Annette Van Zyl DuPlooy of South Africa. At the Federation Cup one week later in West Germany on clay, King won all four of her matches, including victories over DuPlooy, Ann Haydon Jones, and Helga Niessen Masthoff. King then successfully switched surfaces and won her second consecutive Wimbledon singles title, defeating Virginia Wade in the quarterfinals 7–5, 6–2 and Jones. At the Wightman Cup, King again defeated Wade and Jones. King won her second Grand Slam singles title of the year when she won the U.S. Championships for the first time and without losing a set, defeating Wade, DuPlooy, Françoise Durr, and Jones in consecutive matches. Jones pulled her left hamstring muscle early in the final and saved four match points in the second set before King prevailed. King won the singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships, the first woman to do that since Alice Marble in 1939. King then returned to the Australian summer tour in December for the first time since 1965, playing seven events there and Judy Tegart Dalton in six of those events (winning four of their matches). King lost in the quarterfinals of the New South Wales Championships in Sydney to Dalton after King injured her left knee in the second game of the third set of that match. However, King won the Victorian Championships in Melbourne the following week, defeating Dalton, Reid, and Lesley Turner Bowrey in the last three rounds. At a team event in Adelaide, King won all three of her singles and doubles matches to help the U.S. defeat Australia 5–1. To finish the year, King lost to Dalton in the final of the South Australian Championships in Adelaide.

In early 1968, King won three consecutive tournaments to end her Australian tour. In Perth, King won the Western Australia Championships, defeating Margaret Court in the final. In Hobart, King won the Tasmanian Championships by defeating Judy Tegart Dalton in the final. King then won the Australian Championships for the first time, defeating Dalton in the semifinals and Court in the final. King continued to win tournaments upon her return to the United States, winning three indoor tournaments before Nancy Richey Gunter defeated King in the semifinals of the Madison Square Garden Challenge Trophy amateur tournament in New York City before 10,233 spectators. The match started with Gunter taking a 4–2 lead in the first set, before King won 9 of the next 10 games. King served for the match at 5–1 and had a match point at 5–3 in the second set; however, she lost the final 12 games and the match 4–6, 7–5, 6–0. King then won three consecutive tournaments in Europe before losing to Ann Haydon Jones in the final of a professional tournament at Madison Square Garden. Playing the French Open for only the second time in her career and attempting to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles titles (a "non-calendar year Grand Slam"), King defeated Maria Bueno in a quarterfinal before losing to Gunter in a semifinal 2–6, 6–3, 6–4. King rebounded to win her third consecutive Wimbledon singles title, defeating Jones in the semifinals and Dalton in the final. At the US Open, King defeated Bueno in a semifinal before being upset in the final by Virginia Wade. On September 24, she had surgery to repair cartilage in her left knee and did not play in tournaments the remainder of the year. King said that it took eight months (May 1969) for her knee to recover completely from the surgery. In 1977, King said that her doctors predicted in 1968 that her left knee would allow her to play competitive tennis for only two more years.

In 1970, Margaret Court won all four Grand Slam singles tournaments and was clearly the World No. 1. King lost to Court three times in the first four months of the year, in Philadelphia, Dallas, and Johannesburg (at the South African Open). Court, however, was not totally dominant during this period as King defeated her in Sydney and Durban, South Africa. Where Court dominated was at the Grand Slam tournaments. King did not play the Australian Open. King had leg cramps and lost to Helga Niessen Masthoff of West Germany in the quarterfinals of the French Open 2–6, 8–6, 6–1. At Wimbledon, Court needed seven match points to defeat King in the final 14–12, 11–9 in one of the greatest women's finals in the history of the tournament. On July 22, King had right knee surgery, which forced her to miss the US Open. King returned to the tour in September, where she had a first round loss at the Virginia Slims Invitational in Houston and a semifinal loss at the Pacific Coast Championships in Berkeley, California. To close out the year, King in November won the Virginia Slims Invitational in Richmond, Virginia and the Embassy Indoor Tennis Championships in London. During the European clay court season, King warmed-up for the French Open by playing in Monte Carlo (losing in the semifinals), winning the Italian Open (saving three match points against Virginia Wade in the semifinals), playing in Bournemouth (losing to Wade in the quarterfinals), and playing in Berlin (losing to Masthoff in the semifinals). The Italian Open victory was the first important clay court title of King's career. Along the way, she defeated Masthoff in a three-set quarterfinal and Wade in a three-set semifinal, saving two match points at 4–5 in the second set. The twelfth game of that set (with King leading 6–5) had 21 deuces and lasted 22 minutes, with Wade saving seven set points and holding sixteen game points before King won. In Wightman Cup competition two weeks before Wimbledon but played at the All England Club, King defeated both Wade and Ann Haydon Jones in straight sets.

Although King won only one Grand Slam singles title in 1971, this was the best year of her career in terms of tournaments won (17). According to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, she played in 31 singles tournaments and compiled a 112–13 win–loss record.

She started the year by winning eight of the first thirteen tournaments she played, defeating Rosemary Casals in seven finals. King's five losses during this period were to Françoise Durr (twice), Casals (once), Ann Haydon Jones (once), and Chris Evert (in St. Petersburg). The St. Petersburg tournament was King's first since having an abortion that caused her to miss the Virginia Slims tour event in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At the time, King said that retiring from the match with Evert after splitting the first two sets was necessary because of leg cramps. But in early 1972, King admitted that cramps associated with the abortion caused the retirement.

At the tournament in Hurlingham, United Kingdom in early May, King lost a second round match to an old rival, Christine Truman Janes (now 30 years old), 6–4, 6–2. But King recovered the next week to win the German Open in Hamburg on clay. Four weeks later at the Queen's Club tournament in London, King played Margaret Court for the first time in 1971, losing their final. At Wimbledon, King defeated Janes in the fourth round (6–2, 7–5) and Durr in the quarterfinals before losing unexpectedly to Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 6–4, 6–4. Two weeks after Wimbledon, King won the grass court tournament in Hoylake, United Kingdom, beating Virginia Wade, Court, and Casals in the last three rounds. She then played two clay court tournaments in Europe, winning neither, before resuming play in the United States.

In August, King won the indoor Houston tournament and the U.S. Women's Clay Court Championships in Indianapolis. King then switched back to grass and won the US Open without losing a set, defeating Evert in the semifinals (6–3, 6–2) and Casals in the final. King then won the tournaments in Louisville, Phoenix, and London (Wembley Pro). King and Casals both defaulted at 6–6 in the final of the Pepsi Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles in September when their request to remove a lineswoman was denied, eventually resulting in the United States Lawn Tennis Association fining both players US$2,500. To end the year, King played two tournaments in New Zealand but did not win either. She lost in Christchurch to Durr and in Auckland to Kerry Melville Reid.

At the beginning of the year, King failed to win eight of the first ten tournaments she played. She won the title in San Francisco in mid-January. But then King lost in Long Beach to Françoise Durr (although King claimed in her 1982 autobiography that she intentionally lost the match because of an argument with her husband) and in Fort Lauderdale on clay to Chris Evert 6–1, 6–0. The inconsistent results continued through mid-April, in Oklahoma City (losing in the quarterfinals); Washington, D.C. (losing in the second round); and Dallas (losing to Nancy Richey Gunter after defeating Evert in the quarterfinals 6–7(4–5), 6–3, 7–5 and Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 1–6, 6–4, 6–1). King won the title in Richmond; however, one week later, King lost in the semifinals of the tournament in San Juan. This was followed in successive weeks by a loss in the Jacksonville final to Marie Neumannova Pinterova and in a St. Petersburg semifinal to Evert (6–2, 6–3).

King did not lose again until mid-August, winning six consecutive tournaments. She won the tournaments in Tucson and Indianapolis. King then won the French Open without losing a set and completed a career Grand Slam. She defeated Virginia Wade in the quarterfinals, Helga Niessen Masthoff in the semifinals, and Goolagong Cawley in the final. On grass, King then won the Wimbledon warm-up tournaments in Nottingham and Bristol and won Wimbledon itself for the fourth time. She lost only one set during the tournament, to Wade in the quarterfinals. That was followed by straight set wins over Rosemary Casals and Goolagong Cawley. When the tour returned to the United States, King did not win any of the three tournaments she played before the US Open, including a straight sets loss to Margaret Court in Newport. At the US Open, however, King won the tournament without losing a set, including a quarterfinal win over Wade, a semifinal defeat of Court, and a final win over Kerry Melville Reid. King finished the year by winning the tournaments in Charlotte and Phoenix (defeating Court in the final of both), a runner-up finish in Oakland (losing to Court), and a semifinal finish in Boca Raton (losing to Evert).

1973 was Margaret Court's turn to win three Grand Slam singles titles, failing to win only Wimbledon, and was the clear World No. 1 for the year. As during the previous year, King started 1973 inconsistently. She missed the first three Virginia Slims tournaments in January because of a wrist injury. She then lost in the third round at the Virginia Slims of Miami tournament but won the Virginia Slims of Indianapolis tournament, defeating Court in the semifinals 6–7, 7–6, 6–3 and Rosemary Casals in the final. The semifinal victory ended Court's 12-tournament and 59-match winning streaks, with King saving at least three match points when down 5–4 (40–0) in the second set. Indianapolis was followed by five tournaments that King failed to win (Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Jacksonville, and the inaugural Family Circle Cup in Hilton Head, South Carolina). King lost to Court in two of those tournaments. After deciding not to defend her French Open singles title, King won four consecutive tournaments, including her fifth Wimbledon singles title when she defeated Kerry Melville Reid in the quarterfinals, Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals on her eighth match point, and Chris Evert in the final. King lost only nine points in the 6–0 bageling of Evert in the first set of their final. In none of the preceding tournaments, however, did King play Court. Their rivalry resumed in the final of the Virginia Slims of Nashville tournament, where Court won for the third time in four matches against King in 1973. (This was the last ever singles match between those players, with Court winning 21 and King 13 of their 34 matches.) Three weeks later at the US Open, King retired from her fourth round match with Julie Heldman while ill and suffering from the oppressive heat and humidity. When Heldman complained to the match umpire that King was taking too long between games, King reportedly said to Heldman, "If you want the match that badly, you can have it!" The Battle of the Sexes match against Bobby Riggs was held in the middle of the Virginia Slims of Houston tournament. King won her first and second round matches three days before playing Riggs, defeated Riggs, won her quarterfinal match the day after the Riggs match, and then lost the following day to Casals in the semifinals 7–6, 6–1. According to King, "I had nothing left to give." To end the year, King won tournaments in Phoenix, Hawaii, and Tokyo and was the runner-up in Baltimore.

Despite King's achievements at the world's biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers King 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.

In recent years, a persistent urban legend has arisen, particularly on the Internet, that the rules of tennis were modified for the match so that Riggs had only one serve for King's two and that King was allowed to hit into the doubles court area. This is untrue because the match was played under the normal rules of tennis.

King won five of the first seven tournaments she contested in 1974. She won the Virginia Slims of San Francisco, defeating Nancy Richey Gunter in the semifinals and Chris Evert in the final. The following week in Indian Wells, California, King again defeated Gunter in the semifinals but lost to Evert in the final. King then won tournaments in Fairfax, Virginia and Detroit before losing a semifinal match to Virginia Wade in Chicago. King won both tournaments she played in March, defeating Gunter in the Akron, Ohio final and Evert at the U.S. Indoor Championships final. Olga Morozova then upset King in her next two tournaments, at Philadelphia in the final and at Wimbledon in a quarterfinal 7–5, 6–2. Afterword, King did not play a tour match until the US Open, where she won her fourth singles title and third in the last four years. She defeated Rosemary Casals in a straight sets quarterfinal, avenged in the semifinals her previous year's loss to Julie Heldman, and narrowly defeated Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the final. King did not reach a tournament final during the remainder of the year, losing to Heldman in an Orlando semifinal, Wade in a Phoenix semifinal, and Goolagong Cawley in a semifinal of the tour-ending Virginia Slims Championships in Los Angeles.

In 1975, King played singles only half the year, as she retired (temporarily, as it turned out) from tournament singles competition immediately after winning her sixth Wimbledon singles title.

She began the year in San Francisco, defeating Françoise Durr and Virginia Wade before losing to Chris Evert in the final. The following week, King won the Sarasota, Florida tournament, defeating Evert in the final 6–3, 6–2. Evert said immediately after the final, which was her thirteenth career match with King, "I think that's the best that Billie Jean has ever played. I hit some great shots but they just kept coming back at me." Looking back at that match, King said, "I probably played so well because I had to, for the money. Out of frustration comes creativity. Right?" Two months later, Wade defeated King in the semifinals of the Philadelphia tournament. At the Austin, Texas tournament in April, King defeated Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6–1, 6–3 before losing to Evert in the final. As King was serving for the match at 6–5 in the third set, a disputed line call went in Evert's favor. King said after the match that she was cheated out of the match and that she had never been angrier about a match.

Except for five Federation Cup singles matches that she won in straight sets in August, King played only in doubles and mixed doubles events from January through September. She partnered Phil Dent to the mixed doubles title at the US Open. She lost to Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat in both of the singles tournaments she played the remainder of the year. Looking back, King said, "I wasted 1976. After watching Chris Evert and Evonne Cawley play the final at Wimbledon I asked myself what I was doing. So, despite my age and the operations, the Old Lady came back...." King had knee surgery for the third time on November 9, this time on her right knee, and did not play the remainder of the year.

King spent the first three months of the year rehabilitating her right knee after surgery in November 1976.

In March 1977, King requested that the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) exercise its right to grand a wild card entry to King for the eight-player Virginia Slims Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Margaret Court, who finished in sixth place on the Virginia Slims points list, failed to qualify for the tournament because she did not play enough Virginia Slims tournaments leading up to the championships. This left a spot open in the draw, which the WTA filled with Mima Jaušovec. King then decided to play the Lionel Cup tournament in San Antonio, Texas, which the WTA harshly criticized because tournament officials there had allowed transexual Renee Richards to enter. Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Betty Stöve (president of the WTA) criticized King's decision because of Richards's unresolved and highly controversial status on the women's tennis tour. Evert said she was disappointed with King and that until Richards's status was resolved, "all of the women should stick together." Navratilova said, "Billie Jean is a bad girl pouting. She made a bad decision. She's mad because she could not get what she wanted." Stöve said that if King had wanted the competition, "here are plenty of men around here she could've played with. She didn't have to choose a 'disputed' tournament." The draw in San Antonio called for King to play Richards in the semifinals had form held; however, Richards lost in the quarterfinals. King eventually won the tournament.

At the clay court Family Circle Cup in late March, King played for the last time her long-time rival Nancy Richey Gunter in the first round. King won 0–6, 7–6, 6–2. She defeated another clay court specialist, Virginia Ruzici, in the second round before winning only one game from Evert in the final.

King played 10 singles tournaments during the first half of 1978, limiting herself to doubles after Wimbledon.

To start the year, King was the runner-up in Houston and Kansas City (losing to Martina Navratilova in both) and in Philadelphia (losing to Chris Evert). At the Virginia Slims Championships, King lost her first round robin match to Virginia Wade and defaulted her two remaining round robin matches because of a leg injury sustained during the first match.

King teamed with Navratilova to win the women's doubles title at the US Open, King's fourth women's doubles title at that tournament and 14th Grand Slam women's doubles title overall. To end the year, King was undefeated in five doubles matches (four with Evert and one with Rosemary Casals) as the U.S. won the Federation Cup in Melbourne. During the Federation Cup competition, King hinted at retirement from future major singles competitions and said that she was "sick and tired of continued surgery" in trying to get fit enough for those events. Nevertheless, King had foot surgery on December 22 in an attempt to regain mobility for a return to the tennis tour.

During the first half of 1979, King played only one event - doubles in the Federation Cup tie against Spain - because of major surgery to her left foot during December 1978.

King returned to singles competition at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Chichester. She defeated the defending Wimbledon champion, Martina Navratilova, in a 48-minute quarterfinal 6–1, 6–2 before losing to Evonne Goolagong Cawley in the semifinals 1–6, 6–4, 10–8. Seeded seventh at Wimbledon, King defeated Hana Mandlikova in the fourth round before losing the last six games of the quarterfinal match with fourth-seeded Tracy Austin 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–2. King partnered with Navratilova at Wimbledon to win King's 20th and final Wimbledon title, breaking Elizabeth Ryan's longstanding record of 19 Wimbledon titles just one day after Ryan collapsed and died at Wimbledon.

The following week in Tokyo, King won her first singles title in almost two years, defeating Goolagong Cawley in the final. In November in Stockholm, King defeated Betty Stöve in the final after Stöve lost her concentration while serving for the match at 5–4 in the third set. Three weeks later in Brighton, King lost a semifinal match with Navratilova 7–5, 0–6, 7–6(3) after King led 6–5 in the third set. She ended the year with a quarterfinal loss in Melbourne (not the Australian Open), a second round loss in Sydney, and a three-set semifinal loss to Austin in Tokyo.

King won the tournament in Houston that began in late February, snapping Martina Navratilova's 28-match winning streak in the straight-sets final.

At the winter series-ending Avon Championships in March, King defeated Virginia Wade in her first round robin match 6–1, 6–3. After Wade held serve at love to open the match, King won nine consecutive games and lost only nine points during those games. King then lost her second round robin match to Navratilova and defeated Wendy Turnbull in an elimination round match, before losing to Tracy Austin in the semifinals 6–3, 6–1.

King played the French Open for the first time since she won the event in 1972 and completed a career singles Grand Slam. She was seeded second but lost in the quarterfinals to fifth-seeded Dianne Fromholtz Balestrat of Australia 6–1, 6–4.

King teamed with Navratilova to win King's 39th and final Grand Slam title at the US Open. Navratilova then decided she wanted a new doubles partner and started playing with Shriver but refused to discuss the change directly with King. She finally confronted Navratilova during the spring of 1981, reportedly saying to her, "Tell me I'm too old ... but tell me something." Navratilova refused to talk about it.

King had minor knee surgery on November 14 in San Francisco to remove adhesions and cartilage.

In 1982, King was 38 years old and the twelfth-seed at Wimbledon. In her third round match with Tanya Harford of South Africa, King was down 7–5, 5–4 (40–0) before saving three match points to win the second set 7–6(2) and then the third set 6–3. King said in her post-match press conference, "I can't recall the previous time I have been so close to defeat and won. When I was down 4–5 and love–40, I told myself, 'You have been here 21 years, so use that experience and hang on.'" In the fourth round, King upset sixth-seeded Australian Wendy Turnbull in straight sets. King then upset third-seeded Tracy Austin in the quarterfinals 3–6, 6–4, 6–2 to became the oldest female semifinalist at Wimbledon since Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers in 1920. This was King's first career victory over Austin after five defeats and reversed the result of their 1979 Wimbledon quarterfinal. King said in her post-match press conference, "Today, I looked at the scoreboard when I was 2–0 in the third set and the '2' seemed to be getting bigger and bigger. In 1979, when I was up 2–0 at the same stage, I was tired and didn't have anything left. But today I felt so much better and was great mentally." Two days later in the semifinals, which was King's 250th career match at Wimbledon in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles, the second-seeded Chris Evert defeated King on her fifth match point 7–6(4), 2–6, 6–3. King was down a set and 2–1 in the second set before winning five consecutive games to even the match. King explained that she actually lost the match in the first set by failing to convert break points at 15–40 in the second and fourth games.

King retired from competitive play in singles at the end of 1983.

The final official singles match of King's career was a second round 7–6, 4–6, 6–4 loss to Catherine Tanvier at the 1983 Australian Open.

King played doubles sporadically from 1984 through 1990. She retired from competitive play in doubles in March 1990. In her last competitive doubles match, King and her partner, Jennifer Capriati, lost a second round match to Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and Andrea Temesvári 6–3, 6–2 at the Virginia Slims of Florida tournament.

Before the start of the open era in 1968, King earned US$100 a week as a playground instructor and student at Los Angeles State College when not playing in major tennis tournaments.

In America, tennis players are not people. If you are in tennis, you are a cross between a panhandler and a visiting in-law. You're not respected, you're tolerated. In England, you're respected as an artist. In Europe, you're a person of importance. Manuel Santana gets decorated by Franco. The Queen leads the applause. How many times have I been presented at the White House? You work all your life to win Wimbledon and Forest Hills and all the people say is, "That's nice. Now what are you going to do with your life?" They don't ask Mickey Mantle that. Stop 12 people on the street and ask them who Roy Emerson is and they're stuck for an answer, but they know the third-string right guard for the Rams. I'd like to see tennis get out of its "sissy" image and see some guy yell, "Hit it, ya bum" and see it be a game you don't have to have a lorgnette or a sash across your tuxedo to get in to watch.

When the open era began, King campaigned for equal prize money in the men's and women's games. As the financial backing of the women's game improved due to the efforts of World Tennis magazine founder, publisher and editor Gladys M. Heldman, King became the first woman athlete to earn over US$100,000 in prize money in 1971; however, inequalities continued. King won the US Open in 1972 but received US$15,000 less than the men's champion Ilie Năstase. She stated that she would not play the next year if the prize money were not equal. In 1973, the US Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money for men and women.

In 1973, King became the first president of the women's players union – the Women's Tennis Association. In 1974, she, with husband Larry King and Jim Jorgensen, founded womenSports magazine and started the Women's Sports Foundation. Also in 1974, King helped to found World TeamTennis. She became league commissioner in 1982.

King is a member of the Board of Honorary Trustees for the Sports Museum of America, which opened in 2008. The museum is the home of the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center, a comprehensive women's sports hall of fame and exhibit.

In the mid-1990s, King became the captain of the United States Fed Cup team and coach of its women's Olympic tennis squad. She guided the U.S. to the Fed Cup championship in 1996 and helped Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernández, and Mary Joe Fernandez capture Olympic gold medals.

In 2002, King dismissed Capriati from the Fed Cup team, saying Capriati had violated rules that forbade bringing along and practicing with personal coaches. Opinion was sharply divided, with many supporting King's decision but many feeling the punishment was too harsh, especially in hindsight when Monica Seles and Lisa Raymond were defeated by lower-ranked Austrians Barbara Schett and Barbara Schwartz. The following year, Zina Garrison succeeded King as Fed Cup captain.

King's triumph at the French Open in 1972 made her only the fifth woman in tennis history to win the singles titles at all four Grand Slam events, a "career Grand Slam." (Four additional women have completed a career Grand Slam since King.) King also won a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. In women's doubles, only the Australian Open eluded her.

King played 51 Grand Slam singles events from 1959 through 1983 (197–39 .835 win–loss record): 21 at Wimbledon (96–15 win–loss record), 18 at the U.S. Championships/Open (63–14 win–loss record), 7 at the French Championships/Open (22–6 win–loss record), and 5 at the Australian Championships/Open (16–4 win–loss record). King reached at least the semifinals in 27 and at least the quarterfinals in 40 out of her 51 attempts.

King was the runner-up in 6 Grand Slam singles events.

An indicator of King's mental toughness at crunch time in Grand Slam singles tournaments was her 11–2 career record in deuce third sets, i.e., third sets that were tied 5–5 before being resolved.

King won 129 singles titles, and her career prize money totalled US$1,966,487.

In Federation Cup finals, King was on the winning United States team seven times, in 1963, 1966, 1967, and 1976 through 1979. Her career win–loss record was 52–4 (26–3 in singles and 26–1 in doubles). She won the last 30 matches she played (excluding two unfinished matches), including 15 straight wins in both singles and doubles.

In Wightman Cup competition, King's career win–loss record was 22–4 (14–2 in singles and 8–2 in doubles), winning her last 9 matches (6 in singles and 3 in doubles). The United States won the cup 10 of the 11 years that King participated. In singles, King was 6–1 against Ann Haydon Jones, 4–0 against Virginia Wade, and 1–1 against Christine Truman Janes.

Margaret Court, who won more Grand Slam titles than anyone, has said that King was "the greatest competitor I’ve ever known".

King was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1967.

In 1972, King became the first tennis player to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. She was also the first female athlete ever to receive that honor.

Friends with singer Elton John, the 1975 song "Philadelphia Freedom" is a tribute to King. On a PBS program, John talked about how he brought a demo copy of the record to play for her right after he had recorded it.

In 1975, Seventeen magazine found that King was the most admired woman in the world from a poll of its readers. Golda Meir, who had been Israel's prime minister until the previous year, finished second.

King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.

King was the recipient of the 1999 Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

In 2000, King received an award from the GLAAD, an organization devoted to reducing discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals, for "furthering the visibility and inclusion of the community in her work." The award noted her involvement in production and the free distribution of educational films, as well as serving on the boards of several AIDS charities.

In 2006, the Women's Sports Foundation began to sponsor the Billie Awards, which are named after and hosted by King.

On August 28, 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. John McEnroe, Venus Williams, Jimmy Connors, and Chris Evert were among the speakers during the rededication ceremony.

On December 6, 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver inducted King into the California Hall of Fame located at The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.

On October 18, 2007, the Public Justice Foundation presented King with its highest award, the Champion of Justice Award.

On November 20, 2007, King was presented with the 2007 Sunday Times Sports Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to sport both on and off the court.

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USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

Bronze Statue at the USTA National Tennis Center.

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the New York City borough of Queens and has been the home of the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament played every year in August and September. There are 22 courts inside the facility and 11 in the adjoining park. The complex's three stadiums are among the largest tennis stadia in the world, with Arthur Ashe Stadium topping the global list with a listed capacity of 23,200. All 33 courts have used the DecoTurf cushioned acrylic surface since the facility was built in 1978.

Located across from Citi Field, the tennis center is open for play 11 months out of the year (closed during inclement weather and in August/September due to the US Open), barring tournaments the USTA holds (such as junior and wood-racket competitions). The center is open to the public for $16 per hour.

On August 28, 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, as tennis greats such as Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, and Jimmy Connors looked on. It is the largest and most prestigious sports facility in the world to be named after a woman.

The idea of the tennis center came about in January, 1977 when W. E. "Slew" Hester (the incoming president of the USTA) saw the underused Singer Bowl / Louis Armstrong Stadium on a flight into New York's LaGuardia Airport. He asked New York City to let him use Louis Armstrong Stadium and adjoining land for a tennis facility to host the U.S. Open. The center opened in August, 1978.

With rumors of a possible move to San Diego, a major upgrade and expansion began in 1995. More land was committed to the USTA National Tennis Center, and Arthur Ashe Stadium replaced Louis Armstrong Stadium as the main court. Arthur Ashe Stadium holds more than 22,000 spectators while Louis Armstrong Stadium was downsized to hold just 10,000 spectators (the original size was 18,000) . Arthur Ashe Stadium is currently the largest tennis-only stadium in the world.

On July 19, 2008, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and Arthur Ashe Stadium hosted its first ever non-tennis event, when the New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) played in the "Liberty Outdoor Classic: 2008". The game itself was a historic event as it was the first ever professional basketball regular season game ever played outdoors, by either men or women. The contest featured the Indiana Fever deafeating the New York Liberty 71-55.

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Billie Jean King Cup

The Billie Jean King Cup was a one-night tennis exhibition that was held on March 2, 2009, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The event featured current World No. 1 Serena Williams as well as top ten players Jelena Jankovic, Venus Williams, and Ana Ivanovic. The tournament, officially known as the "BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup", was preceded by a tribute to tennis pioneer Billie Jean King. Participants in the tribute included former president Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan, and race car driver Janet Guthrie.

Proceeds from the event benefitted the Dream Vaccines Foundation and the Women's Sports Foundation.

The Billie Jean King Cup was a single elimination exhibition tournament. Each player competed in a one set, no ad scoring semifinal, with the winners advancing to a best-of-three set final with regular scoring. This event was the first women's tennis match to be played at Madison Square Garden since 2000, when the year-ending Chase Championships were held there.

Serena Williams won her semifinal match against Ana Ivanovic 6–3, which succeeded Venus Williams's 6–4 semifinal win against Jelena Jankovic. The final was won by Serena 6–4, 6–3.

The Billie Jean King Cup was questioned by some for the element of spectacle and prize money at the event. Attendance of the event was described as "so-so" (though inclement weather was cited as a valid factor).

The semifinal matches, because of their brevity due to the scoring structure, were criticized as being played "largely with something like a clock-puncher's resignation". The final match between Venus and Serena Williams, however, was considered more engaging, as another match in the continuing rivalry between the Williams sisters.

It is unknown whether the exhibition will be played again, though reaction for a return was favorable among journalists and players.

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Bobby Riggs

Robert Larimore ("Bobby") Riggs (February 25, 1918 – October 25, 1995) was a 1930s–40s tennis player who was the World No. 1 or the co-World No. 1 player for three years, first as an amateur in 1941, then as a professional in 1946 and 1947. He played his first professional tennis match on December 26, 1941.

After being mostly forgotten for many years, he gained far more fame in 1973 at the age of 55 by challenge matches against two of the top female players in the world. "The Battle of the Sexes" match against Billie Jean King was one of the most famous tennis events of all time.

Jack Kramer in his 1979 autobiography called Riggs "the most underrated of all the top players" and said, perhaps surprisingly, that he considers Riggs to be one of the six best players of all time. He went on to say that Riggs at his best was probably even better than Pancho Gonzales, a man still considered by some to have been the greatest player of all time.

Riggs was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of a minister and one of six siblings. He was an excellent table tennis player as a boy and when he began playing tennis at age 11, he was quickly befriended and then coached by Esther Bartosh, who was the third-ranking woman player in Los Angeles. Depending entirely on speed and ball control, he soon began to win boys (through 15 years old) and then juniors (through 18 years old) tournaments. Although it is sometimes said that Riggs was one of the great tennis players nurtured by Perry T. Jones and the Southern California Tennis Association, Riggs writes in his autobiography that for many years Jones considered Riggs to be too small and not powerful enough to be a top-flight player. (Jack Kramer, however, says in his autobiography that Jones turned against Riggs "for being a kid hustler".) After initially helping Riggs, therefore, Jones then refused to sponsor him in the important eastern tournaments. With the help of Bartosh and other mentors, however, Riggs played in various national tournaments and by the time he was 16 was the fifth-ranked junior player in the United States. The next year, he won his first national championship, winning the National Juniors by beating Joe Hunt in the finals. That same year, 1935, he met Hunt in 17 final-round matches and won all 17 of them.

As a 20-year-old amateur, Riggs was part of the American Davis Cup winning team in 1938. The following year, he made it only to the finals of the French Championships but then won the Wimbledon Championships triple, capturing the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles. He went on to win the U.S. Championships, earning the World No. 1 amateur ranking for 1939. Riggs teamed up with Alice Marble, his Wimbledon co-champion, to win the 1940 U.S. Championships mixed doubles title. In 1941, he won his second U.S. Championships singles title, following which he turned professional. His new career, however, was quickly interrupted by military service during World War II.

After the war, as a professional, Riggs won the Professonal American Singles Championship in 1946, 1947, and 1949. In the 1946 tour against Budge, Riggs won 18 matches and lost 16, establishing himself as the best player in the world. (Some sources say the winning margin was 23-21, although Riggs himself in his autobiography said that it was 24-22.) The next year, according to some sources, he beat Budge again by the same narrow margin. But other sources say that he played Budge infrequently and that his primary tour was against Frank Kovacs, whom he beat 11 matches to 10. Budge had sustained an injury to his right shoulder in a military training exercise during the war and had never fully recovered his earlier flexibility. Now, in 1947, according to Kramer, "Bobby played to Budge's shoulder, lobbed him to death, won the first twelve matches, thirteen out of the first fourteen, and then hung on to beat Budge, twenty-four matches to twenty-two." Kramer himself, however, had a sensational 1947 as an amateur and it is debatable whether he or Riggs was actually the top player for the year.

The promoter of the two Riggs-Budge tours was Jack Harris. In mid-1947, he had already made a deal with Kramer that he would turn professional after the U.S. Championships, regardless of whether he was the winner. He also told Riggs and Budge that the winner of the Professional American Singles Championship, to be held at Forest Hills, would establish the World Champion who would defend his title against Kramer. For the second year in a row, Riggs defeated Budge. Harris signed Kramer for 35 percent of the gross receipts and offered 20 percent to Riggs. He then changed his mind, as Riggs recounts in his autobiography, "saying he could get Ted Schroeder as one of the supporting pair, provided both Kramer and I would yield 2-1/2 percent of our shares in order to build up the offer to Ted. We both agreed — and then Schroeder refused." Harris then signed Pancho Segura and Dinny Pails at $300 per week to play the opening match of the Riggs-Kramer tour. Riggs then went on to play Kramer for 17-1/2 percent of the gross receipts.

In spite of still beating some of the other professionals such as Pancho Segura in the following years, Riggs soon retired from competitive tennis and briefly took over the job of promoting the professional game.

As a senior player in his 60s and 70s, Riggs won numerous national titles within various age groups.

Riggs became famous as a hustler and gambler, when, in his 1949 autobiography, he wrote that he had made $105,000 in 1939 by betting on himself at Wimbledon to win all three championships: the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. Betting is legal in England, and he parlayed a modest $500 initial bet on his chances of winning the singles competition into a sum that would be equivalent to at least $1 million in 2006 dollars. According to Riggs, World War II kept him from taking his winnings out of the country, so that by 1946, when the war had ended, he then had an even larger sum waiting for him in England, fattened by compounding interest.

For many years while in retirement, Riggs was a well-known golf and tennis hustler and made a living by placing bets on himself to win matches against other, apparently better, players. To entice fresh victims to play him, he would handicap himself with weird devices like using a frying pan instead of a tennis racquet for the match or playing a round of golf with only one club. Whatever the handicap, Riggs generally won his bets.

A master promoter of himself and the game, Riggs saw an opportunity in 1973 to make money and to elevate the popularity of a sport he loved. Although 55 years old, he deliberately played the male chauvinist card and came out of retirement to challenge one of the world's greatest female players to a match, claiming that the female game was inferior and that a top female player could not beat him even at the age of 55. The cagey Riggs challenged Margaret Court, 30 years old and the top female player in the world. In their May 13, 1973, Mother's Day match in Ramona, California, Riggs used his drop shots and lobs to keep an unprepared Court off balance. His easy 6–2, 6–1 victory landed Riggs on the cover of both Sports Illustrated and Time magazine.

Riggs had originally challenged Billie Jean King to a match, but King had declined. Following the embarrassing (to the women's pro tennis world) loss by Court to Riggs, King accepted his challenge, and on September 20, 1973, the two met in the Houston Astrodome to play what may well be the most famous tennis match of all time. King beat Riggs in the match forever known as The Battle of the Sexes 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. Unlike a match between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova in 1992, this match was played using the normal rules of tennis.

Riggs was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1988. He founded the Bobby Riggs Tennis Museum Foundation to increase awareness of the disease. Riggs died of the cancer October 25, 1995, in Encinitas, California, aged 77.

Riggs was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967.

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Source : Wikipedia