Were Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs Friends?

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, two titans of the tennis world, will forever be linked in history for their legendary Battle of the Sexes match in 1973. However, their relationship extended far beyond that monumental event. While the world may have perceived them as fierce rivals, King recently revealed a surprising truth – they were friends. Riggs, known for his gambling ways, passed away in 1995 at the age of 77, and on his 105th birth anniversary, King took to Twitter to pay tribute to her former adversary and reflect on their friendship. In a series of heartfelt tweets, she tore down the misconception that they were enemies, shedding light on a bond that transcended the court and celebrated the mutual respect and admiration they held for one another. As the world remembers them for their extraordinary match that sparked a revolution in women's tennis, let’s also remember the genuine camaraderie that existed between these two icons of the sport.

Did Riggs Throw the Match Against Billie Jean King?

The question of whether Bobby Riggs intentionally threw the match against Billie Jean King is a topic that’s sparked much debate over the years. Riggs, known for his flamboyant personality and showmanship, was no stranger to controversy. He was known to associate himself with mobsters and had a history of gambling. Some speculate that Riggs may have had an ulterior motive in his match against King.

However, it’s important to note that Riggs himself never directly admitted to throwing the match. In fact, he acknowledged Kings talent and skill, stating that she played a great match. King, on the other hand, firmly asserts that she won the match fair and square. She believed that Riggs didn’t put himself in a position to physically win, suggesting that he may have intentionally underperformed.

Riggss association with mobsters and his reputation as a gambler have fueled rumors that he may have been involved in some sort of fix. However, these are largely speculative and lack concrete evidence. It’s also important to consider that Riggs was a highly skilled tennis player in his own right. He’d previously defeated Margaret Court, the reigning womens champion, in a highly publicized match.

Ultimately, the truth behind whether Riggs intentionally threw the match against King may never be fully known. Riggs himself passed away in 1995, taking any potential secrets regarding the match with him. Despite the controversy surrounding the match, both Riggs and King left a lasting impact on the sport of tennis. Their battle on the court brought attention to gender equality in sports and remains a significant moment in tennis history.

In the decades following the iconic ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, speculation swirled around Riggs intentionally losing the game. However, as he neared the end of his life, Riggs adamantly denied any notions of throwing the match for personal gain. His final breaths echoed the sentiment that King had emerged victorious through sheer skill and determination, leaving behind a legacy of a hard-fought battle that transcends gender barriers.

Did Bobby Riggs Intentionally Lose to Billy Jean King?

There’s been much debate and speculation surrounding the famous Battle of the Sexes match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 197Despite rumors and allegations, there’s no concrete evidence to suggest that Riggs intentionally lost to King. In fact, Riggs himself vehemently denied these accusations until the very end of his life.

As Riggs approached his final moments, he reiterated his stance that King had defeated him fairly and squarely. He adamantly rejected any notion that he’d deliberately thrown the match. Riggs was known for his showmanship and flair, but to suggest that he’d purposely lose such a high-profile game diminishes his competitive spirit and respect for the game.

The Battle of the Sexes match was a highly anticipated event that captured global attention. Riggs, a former tennis champion, was known for his provocative and controversial antics, which fueled the media frenzy leading up to the match. King, on the other hand, was an accomplished athlete fighting for gender equality in sports.

The Impact of the Battle of the Sexes Match on the Women’s Rights Movement

The Battle of the Sexes match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs had a significant impact on the women’s rights movement. Taking place in 1973, the match highlighted gender inequality and brought attention to women’s struggle for equality in sports and other aspects of life. King’s victory showcased the skill and determination of women athletes, inspiring many to fight for equal opportunities and recognition. This historic event fueled the momentum behind the women’s rights movement, leading to important advancements in gender equality both in sports and society as a whole.

Source: Was Billie Jean King’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ victory rigged …

The film “Battle of the Sexes” showcases the remarkable story of Billie Jean King and her journey as a tennis player and social activist. One pivotal aspect explored in the movie is King’s relationship with Marilyn Barnett, her first female lover. Marilyn, a former hairdresser, remained by King’s side during the groundbreaking 1973 tennis match against Bobby Riggs. This captivating narrative sheds light on the significant role Marilyn played in King’s life and the impact she’d on her journey of self-discovery and advocacy.

Who Was Billie Jean King’s First Female Lover?

In the movie “Battle of the Sexes,” Andrea Riseborough portrays Marilyn Barnett, a former hairdresser who’s often considered the first love of the iconic tennis player and social activist, Billie Jean King. Marilyn Barnett was Billie Jean Kings first female lover, and their relationship played a significant role in Kings personal life during the historic 1973 tennis match against Bobby Riggs.

During a time when same-sex relationships weren’t openly acknowledged or accepted, Marilyn Barnett stood by Billie Jean Kings side as a supportive and loving partner. Their partnership was instrumental in shaping Kings understanding of herself and her identity. Their bond was deeply rooted in love and mutual support, as they navigated the challenges of their time together.

Barnett, a talented hairdresser, had a profound impact on Billie Jean Kings life, both on and off the tennis court. As King rose to fame as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Barnett provided emotional support and a sense of stability that allowed King to channel her focus and energy into her game. Their connection was a crucial source of strength for King during the pressure-filled time leading up to the legendary match against Bobby Riggs.

The 1973 match between King and Riggs went far beyond the boundaries of tennis. It became a symbol of gender equality and challenged societal norms. Throughout it all, Marilyn Barnett remained a steadfast presence in Billie Jean Kings life, offering unwavering support in the face of immense scrutiny and external pressures.

While the movie “Battle of the Sexes” showcases the complex dynamics of Kings relationship with Marilyn Barnett, it’s worth noting that their story, like many others, is multifaceted. Their love, partnership, and shared journey were instrumental in shaping Kings personal and professional life, marking an important chapter in the history of both womens empowerment and LGBTQ+ visibility.

The Impact of Billie Jean King’s Relationship With Marilyn Barnett on Her Career as a Tennis Player

Billie Jean King’s relationship with Marilyn Barnett, which became public in 1981, had a significant impact on her career as a tennis player. Before the revelation, King was considered one of the greatest female athletes, having won numerous Grand Slam titles and making notable contributions to women’s tennis, including advocating for equal prize money.

However, the public disclosure of her relationship with Barnett affected her endorsements and public image. Many sponsors, including tennis equipment companies, terminated their contracts with King, leading to a loss of financial support and opportunities. The controversy surrounding her personal life created substantial distractions and media scrutiny, taking away focus from her professional achievements on the court.

Despite the challenges, Billie Jean King continued to play tennis professionally and remained an influential figure in the sport. She later became an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and continued to fight for gender equality in sports and beyond. King’s impact on the tennis world and society as a whole extends far beyond her personal relationships and is a testament to her resilience and determination.


Riggs and King's iconic Battle of the Sexes match in 1973 captivated the world, sparking debates and discussions about gender equality in sports. While their on-court rivalry was fierce, it’s intriguing to consider the possibility of a genuine friendship existing between two athletes who were once opponents. King's heartfelt tribute to Riggs on his birth anniversary suggests a deeper connection beyond the public eye. Perhaps the intense competition and shared experiences of breaking barriers brought them closer, fostering a friendship that endured even after Riggs' passing. As we reflect upon their legacies, it’s important to acknowledge the complexity of relationships forged in the spotlight, reminding us that even in the midst of fierce competition, friendship can emerge, transcending boundaries and challenging our preconceived notions.

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