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Billie Jean King’s friends pay tribute to her on 40th anniversary of Bobby Riggs match

Billie Jean King’s friends pay tribute to her on 40th anniversary of Bobby Riggs match

It was 40 years today (20 September) that Billie Jean King took on Bobby Riggs in a much-hyped Battle of the Sexes match at the Houston Astrodome.

Much was on the line as Riggs, the 1939 Wimbledon champion, had earlier in the year easily beaten the top-ranked Margaret Court which led to King accepting a similar challenge.

King was better prepared then Court and took the match seriously and beat Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3 in a match attended by 30,472 – still the largest audience ever to see a tennis match in the US. The match was also seen by a worldwide audience of 90 million.

‘Respect is the one word the describes why I won that match – I respected Bobby Riggs,’ King said in a recent interview for an American Masters documentary on her life and career.

On the 40th anniversary of the match, many of King’s famous friends paid tribute to her accomplishment on Twitter.

‘She is a woman who will forever be known for her vision, her leadership, her extraordinary sense of fairness,’ wrote fellow tennis champ Chris Evert.

Evert’s great rival and King’s former doubles partner Martina Navratilova wrote: ’40 years ago today Billie Jean King wiped Bobby Riggs off the Houston Astrodome floor- congrats!!!’

Two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin tweeted: ‘Happy 40th Anniversary to @BillieJeanKing for her win over Bobby Riggs!Remember it well! Huge impact on generations. #inspirational.’

Elton John, a longtime King pal who wrote his 1975 hit Philadelphia Freedom about her, wrote: Happy 40th anniversary to @BillieJeanKing on her historic win over Bobby Riggs in the Battles of the Sexes! #KingRiggs40.’

Diana Nyad, who recently made history herself with her swim from Cuba to Florida, wrote: ‘Sending trailblazer @BillieJeanKing big appreciation today! 40th Anniversary #KingRiggs40.’