It was the match that brought women's tennis into mainstream American consciousness, and made out athlete Billie Jean King a household name: The "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between King, 29, and retired tennis pro Bobby Riggs, 55, on September 20, 1973.
King bested Riggs in each set, winning 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3, and decisively proving that women could — and were — formidable athletes able to compete against their male counterparts.
But a new report at ESPN's Outside The Lines revives the theory that Riggs threw the match, letting King win. Because there's no way King, two decades Riggs' junior and arguably in her prime, could have bested Riggs, with his macho charm and apparent connections to the mob… Right?
That's the approach the (notably all-male) anchors, reporters, and sources take in this segment from ABC News about the OTL broadcast.
King, who's no stranger to the sexism that's been trying to invalidate her reputation for the past four decades, vehemently denies these allegations.
"I would bet my life that Bobby never had that discussion with them," King told ABC. "Bobby doesn't get involved with mobsters." She called the entire story "ridiculous."
ABC and ESPN promptly dismiss King's response — what does she know, with her ladybits probably distracting her from remembering the historic match she competed in 40 years ago? — with a quote from Riggs' son, who says his dad did, in fact, know and associate with mobsters. So it's totally possible that the late Riggs had a debt to settle and therefore threw the match.
Obviously. Because that's the only way a woman could have bested a man at something so obviously masculine as, you know, sports.
Sexism is alive and well, folks. Take a look: