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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Billie Jean King Riggs Bobby in "Battle of Sexes"
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

Sept. 20, 1973

The "Battle of the Sexes" pits the queen of women's tennis, Billie Jean King, against the king of male chauvinists, Bobby Riggs. In a circus-like atmosphere in the Astrodome, Billie Jean is transported into the stadium on a Cleopatra-style gold litter that is held aloft by four muscular track-and-field athletes from nearby Rice University.

Riggs enters in a gold-wheeled rickshaw pulled by six models in tight red-and-gold outfits who have been dubbed, for ample reason, "Bobby's Bosom Buddies." After Riggs presents King with a large candy sucker, she gives him her gift - a brown baby pig.

King, a five-time Wimbledon champ, has the last laugh on the court as well. In a Ms.-match, the 29-year-old King overwhelms the 55-year-old hustler, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, before the largest crowd (30,492) to ever attend a tennis match.

"She was just too quick," says Riggs, the 1939 Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals winner who had beaten Margaret Smith Court on Mother's Day. "I couldn't get the ball past her."

King says, "This is a culmination of 19 years of tennis for me. I've wanted to change the sport and tonight a lot of non-tennis people saw the sport for the first time."

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