During the Famous “Battles of the Sexes” Between Billie Jean King and Bobby Rigg, Did King Get Special Advantages During the Match?

SPORTS LEGEND: During “The Battle of the Sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, there were special rules that gave King an advantage.

The Battle of the Sexes was an exhibition tennis match in September of 1973 between Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old tennis star from the 1940s and Billie Jean King, the 29-year-old female tennis player who was one of the top-ranked female players in the world.

The match was held in Houston, Texas and was nationally televised.

Riggs was a master showman, and he played his male chauvinist card to the tee by challenging all the top female players in the world to a match that, he claimed, he would win because he was a man and men are just better than women in tennis, even if the man is nearly twice the age of the woman.

The match gained further attention due to Riggs having already defeated 30-year-old Margaret Court, then THE top-ranked female player in the world.


However, Riggs beat Court by using a series of drop shots and lobs. That was highly effective against Court who was not expecting such a style, but King very much WAS expecting it, so she was quite prepared when their match took place.


Riggs ultimately would have to change to straight serve and volley, but it was not enough, and King won in straight sets 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.

However, over the years, besides the rumors that Riggs intentionally lost (presumably because he secretly bet on King), a persistent story has sprung up that the match was played with rules that handicapped Riggs.

That is not the truth – the only handicap was Riggs’ age.

Most likely, people are confusing it with the 1992 take on the Battle of the Sex, when Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova played an exhibition match on Pay Per View (Connors was 40 and Navratilova was 35). In THAT match, Connors was only allowed one chance at each serve and Navratilova was allowed to hit into the doubles match area.


Connors won that match.

That has to be the reason why the rumors persist that there was some rules handicap for Riggs.

There wasn’t.

STATUS: False.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

Leave a Reply