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344. Billie Jean King: An Advocate of Equal Rights for Women
It was not so long ago that women
the United States were treated like second-class citizens.
did not have the same basic rights as
male counterparts had. At one time, women were
allowed to vote, own property, or get education.
those dark times, the women of America have
great strides in their struggle for equality. One
their heroes was the great Billie Jean King.
was a professional tennis player, who gained great
during her career on the women's tennis court.
won 39 Grand Slam Titles, 12 singles, 16
's doubles, and 11 mixed doubles. She found success
just about every venue she participated in, including
Federation Cup Championships. King's greatest accomplishment, however, was
exhibition match that took place in Houston, Texas
September 20, 1973.
The 29-year-old King, who was
the top of her professional career at the
, faced a former Wimbledon Champion, Bobby Riggs. Riggs
one of the best men's players during his
in the late 1930s and 40s. The 55-year-old
challenged King to an exhibition match claiming that
women's game was far inferior to the men's
. He said that even a 55-year-old, "washed-up" former
could beat the top woman in the world.
stage was set for the match. However, it
not much of a match at all.
defeated Riggs without much trouble. The match was
exposed for what many people claimed it would
: a showcase for King to demonstrate that women
compete against men. The victory was part of
equal rights movement that was sweeping the nation
that time. King became an outspoken advocate of
rights for women.