Battle of the Sexes

On 20 September, 1973 a Battle of the Sexes took place on a tennis court in Houston, Texas. It changed women's sports forever.

Almost 50 years ago a tennis match fascinated millions of people around the world.  However, it was not part of any tennis tournament.  It was a ‘Battle of the Sexes’.

In those days, many people did not think that women’s tennis was a serious sport.  Men’s tennis was always the priority for tournaments, spectators and sports writers.  Male players received much more money than women players.

In 1973, a retired player called Bobby Riggs declared that women’s tennis was of poor quality.  He thought that women players could not deal with the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player.  He wanted to play the top players from the women’s tournament to demonstrate that men’s tennis was superior.

Riggs was a top player in the 1930s and 1940s.  He reached number 1 in the men’s ranking and was a winner of Wimbledon and the US Open.  However, by 1973 he was retired.

In spring of that year, a match was held between Riggs and the top female player, Margaret Court.  Riggs won easily.  He then declared that he wanted to play Billie Jean King who was probably the best female tennis player.  She accepted the challenge.

The match was held on 20 September, 1973.  30,000 fans were in the stadium and over 90 million people watched it on television.

King defeated Riggs in three straight sets.

The same year as the ‘Battle of the Sexes’, the US Open became the first important  tennis tournament to have equal prize money for its men’s and women’s champions.

In 2017, a movie of the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ was released.  The stars were Emma Stone and Steve Carell.

glossary

  • to challenge – desafiar
  • champion – el campeón/ la campeona
  • to deal with – tartar con
  • in those days – en aquellos tiempos
  • movie – la película
  • priority – la prioridad
  • to release (a movie) – estrenar
  • retired – jubliado
  • stadium – el estadio
  • tournament – el torneo

cognates

Many words in Spanish and English are the same or very similar.

  • to declare – declarer
  • to demonstrate – demonstrar
  • to fascinate – fascinar
  • sexes – los sexos
  • spectator – el espectador/ la espectadora
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