Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports

Synopsis

When Billie Jean King trounced Bobby Riggs in tennis's Battle of the Sexes in 1973, she placed sports squarely at the center of a national debate about gender equity. In this winning combination of biography and history, Susan Ware argues that King's challenge to sexism, the supportive climate of second-wave feminism, and the legislative clout of Title IX sparked a women's sports revolution in the 1970s that fundamentally reshaped American society.
While King did not single-handedly cause the revolution in women's sports, she quickly became one of its most enduring symbols, as did Title IX, a federal law that was initially passed in 1972 to attack sex discrimination in educational institutions but had its greatest impact by opening opportunities for women in sports. King's place in tennis history is secure, and now, with Game, Set, Match, she can take her rightful place as a key player in the history of feminism as well. By linking the stories of King and Title IX, Ware explains why women's sports took off in the 1970s and demonstrates how giving women a sporting chance has permanently changed American life on and off the playing field.

Excerpt

I know that when I die, nobody at my fanerû will be talking about me. They’ll all just
be standing xound telling each other where they were the night I beat Bobby Riggs.

—BILLIE JEAN KING

On the evening of September 20, 1973, an estimated 48 million Americans tuned their televisions sets to an unlikely event: a tennis match at the Houston Astrodome between a twenty-nine-year-old, five-time Wimbledon champion at the top of her game and a fifty-five-year-old former tennis great long past his prime. Many people at the time sensed that all the hoopla surrounding this $100,000, winner-take-all “Battle of the Sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs was about more than just a tennis match, although nobody could really say why. Was it because the country was sick of Watergate, inflation, and the energy crisis and wanted a diversion? Was the match a referendum on the new—and to many, troubling— social movement called women’s liberation? Was the circus atmosphere an example of media hype gone awry? In fact, the contemporary and historical significance of the match derived from the congruence of all three—a “perfect storm,” as it were, in the history of sports, entertainment, and modern feminism. . .

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