How To Watch The Real Battle Of The Sexes Match & See Billie Jean King's Epic Win
Perhaps one of the most high-stakes sporting matches of its time, the infamous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between tennis legends Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King is now being retold for 2017 audiences in the film of the same name. While Battle of the Sexes has gone to great lengths to recreate news footage and coverage of that event, if you're jonesing to watch the actual coverage, there are a few ways you can watch the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Riggs and King right now.
It will require a bit of an intense search, but most of the "Battle of the Sexes" match between Riggs and King exists in print, as recounted by sports reporters for various outlets, as well as in a few clips. Moments like Riggs' and King's extravagant entrances onto the tennis court have been preserved on film. Similar to the respective ostentatious entrances viewers can glimpse in the Battle of the Sexes trailer, the AP news footage below shows King entering on what looks like a small Carnival float, full to the brim with feathers and glittery accoutrements, while Riggs enters on foot, wearing his Sugar Daddy track suit. This footage goes on to show highlights from the match, including King matching Riggs shot for shot and then ultimately beating him with ease.
That said, if you're craving something a bit more complete, you may just have to cobble together clips from various sources on YouTube in order to get a sense of what it was like to watch the match unfold. From AP's archival footage, you can take a look at the exciting and intensive look back at the match with King herself, who in 2013 sat down with ABC news anchor Robin Roberts to discuss the "Battle of the Sexes" match on its 40th anniversary.
The reflective interview offers some great context to the match, including the fact that King stipulated she wouldn't play Riggs until he beat the top-ranked women's tennis player at the time, meaning there's technically more than one "Battle of the Sexes" match that took place in 1973. A vocal and staunch feminist, King recalled why that match — against a male player who rejoiced in his masculine dominance — was crucial to play. "I thought, '[Women] are on our way, we're changing things for women.' And I wanted that to continue."
It may be frustrating to not be able to see the match in full, but after watching all the clips you can find on YouTube, you should also read Time magazine's intense account of the game to really experience what it was like.
"King moved swiftly to the attack. She drove Riggs back to the far corners of the court, whipping him back and forth along the baseline like a bear in a shooting gallery. She fired low volleys at his feet, destroyed his famous lobs, put away almost every shot within reach. [...] He unaccountably fed her appetite for backhand smashes and volleys; a full 70 of her 109 points were outright winners—shots that Riggs never touched. Time and again he was forced to watch helplessly as Billie Jean rushed the net and slapped the ball past him. Between sets, Riggs ' son Jimmy, 20, said: "Come on, Dad, wake up." No chance. Riggs never really got into the game."
Now, 44 years later, this landmark moment in sports history lives on in print and in archive news footage, just as it does with the film Battle of the Sexes.