National Public Radio’s morning fake news program is called “Morning Edition.” They have an anchorette named Mary Louise Kelly. Kelly announced that today was the “44th anniversary of the day when 29-year old Billie Jean King played 55-year old Bobby Riggs in what was billed as the “‘Battle of the Sexes.'”
“Billie Jean King crushed him,” Kelly informed us, “…in straight sets.” That last delivered after a pause for dramatic effect, and in a voice that dripped smugness.
The idea, you see, was the the “Battle of the Sexes” proved conclusively that women could play on the same stage as the men, and be just as goshdarned great as the men. And, of course, beat the men. Because, as mentioned, Billie Jean King crushed Bobby Riggs. And the central mythos of feminism isn’t that women and men are of equal capabilities, but that women are superior in every way to men.
Well, okay. But, was there a back story behind all that Battle of the Sexes stuff? Can we get some background? There sure was a back story, and we sure can get some background! The major part of the back story was in the announcement itself: The 29-year old King was playing the 55-year old Riggs.
At the time of the match, King was an accomplished veteran with many major titles under her belt. However, at 29 years of age, she was aging for her sport. Riggs was a long past-his-prime tennis champ, who hadn’t played serious, competitive tennis in more than three decades. His last championship had been in 1939! The “Battle of the Sexes” took place in 1973, some 34 years later.
Why in the world would anyone arrange a match between a 29-year old champion tennis player and a 55-year old has been? Well, easy: you do that if you want to be pretty sure that the 55-year old has-been will lose. So, the thing was rigged. Get it? Rigged? Bobby Riggs? Only it was rigged against Riggs.
What Mary Louise Kelly neglected to tell anyone was that Bobby Riggs — kind of a grandstanding eccentric, to put it mildly — had tried to arrange this match before, and Billie Jean King had refused to play. That strikes me as a sensible decision. She had everything to lose, if the 55-year old, washed-up has-been were to defeat her.
So, in stepped Margaret Court. At the time, Court was the top-ranked woman player in the world. Riggs actually crushed Court in straight sets: 6-1, 6-2.
At that point, though, after the Court-Riggs match, Billie Jean King could no longer refuse to play Riggs, so the matchup was arranged.
When Mary Louise Kelly announced that King had crushed Riggs, she might have been embellishing a bit. Yes, she did win in straight sets, but in no one set was any “crushing” administered. The final score was 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. Furthermore, at one point in the first set, King was behind in the score, as Riggs was the first to break service.
But, wait, there’s more! Riggs played with a bunch of handicaps against King too! If you read the story about the so-called “Battle of the Sexes” (here) you’ll see no mention of the fact that in both Rigg’s victory over Margaret Court, and his loss to Billie Jean King, Riggs had to defend the doubles court, and was allowed only one serve. These things were whitewashed from history.
Reading the Wikipedia piece further, you’ll note that there have been several of these “Battles of the Sexes,” most of which are mere publicity stunts, and none of which ever simply pitted, say, the top-ranked woman player in the world against the top-ranked man in a simple, straight-up tennis match!
Furthermore, in all these matches, the man either has to play with ridiculous handicaps — like one serve, defending the doubles court, chairs on the court — or agrees to use only trick shots, or some other way to avoid having an actual tennis match. And, in almost all cases, despite all the hoo-hah, the man has still won the match. What any even casual observer is left to understand is that there’s simply no way to get a straight-up tennis match between an equally-ranked man and woman… because the woman wouldn’t have a chance.
The Wikipedia piece also has this interesting tidbit:
In 2013, Andy Murray responded to a Twitter user who asked whether he would consider challenging Serena Williams, saying “I’d be up for it. Why not?” Williams also reacted positively to the suggestion, remarking “That would be fun. I doubt I’d win a point, but that would be fun.” [Red emphasis added]
Here’s another interesting part of the Wikipedia piece:
Another event dubbed a “Battle of the Sexes” took place during the 1998 Australian Open between Karsten Braasch and the Williams sisters. Venus and Serena Williams had claimed that they could beat any male player ranked outside the world’s top 200, so Braasch, then ranked 203rd, challenged them both. Braasch was described by one journalist as “a man whose training regime centered around a pack of cigarettes and more than a couple bottles of ice cold lager”. The matches took place on court number 12 in Melbourne Park, after Braasch had finished a round of golf and two beers. He first took on Serena and after leading 5–0, beat her 6–1. Venus then walked on court and again Braasch was victorious, this time winning 6–2. Braasch said afterwards, “500 and above, no chance”. He added that he had played like someone ranked 600th in order to keep the game “fun”. Braasch said the big difference was that men can chase down shots much easier, and that men put spin on the ball that the women can’t handle. The Williams sisters adjusted their claim to beating men outside the top 350. [Red emphasis added]
So, it’s known that the women can’t stay with the men in a straight-up tennis match. It’s known throughout tennis. McEnroe said it outright and Serena Williams even said that she doubted she’d win even one point against Andy Murray. Serena further says that she couldn’t beat any man of the top 350 in the world.(1)
NPR followed up yesterday’s little announcement of the anniversary of the “Battle of the Sexes” this morning with a feature about a movie based on the event. In today’s piece, the very same Mary Louise Kelly mentioned above, interviewed the husband-wife team making the movie. Kelly mentioned the incident that we covered in these pages (here), in which John McEnroe called Serena Williams the “greatest woman tennis player in history,” but said that she wouldn’t be ranked as high as #700 on the men’s tour.
NPR’s Kelly asked the movie directors about McEnroe’s remark and the wife side of the duo replied that she was surprised to have heard it. She further said that she knew McEnroe to “be a progressive guy.” However, at no point did anyone ever address the simplest, most obvious question: Is McEnroe’s statement true or false?
I’ve still never heard it addressed anywhere. Yet, it’d be the easiest thing in the world to prove or disprove. If you read our above-linked essay on the topic, you discover that McEnroe also said that they should just do it… arrange a straight-up tennis match between a top-ranked woman and a top-ranked man.
Here’s another interesting link. And a very interesting passage from the linked feature:
I think Serena would get beaten by the #2,000 male ATP player.
A similar question was once answered by an ex College Player and Satellite player:
Female pros play male players all the time. They seek out male college players as practice partners precisely because they give the top women all they can handle. At full gas, any top ranked Division 1 male college player will routinely beat the world’s top female professional players quite comfortably, and most of those males can’t even get a computer ranking. [Red emphasis added.]
All this is fun to chew over and speculate about, but there’s a deeper point, and it’s in our headline: What McEnroe said was simply… true. So NPR treated an actual true statement as something that only a retrograde, backward, out-of-touch, woman-hating moron would say. In other words, to be “progressive,” you must learn, repeat, protect and live… myths, lies and fabrications.
(1) It may be churlish to point this out, but there’s another really good reason, besides left-wing ideology and feminism, why you’ll probably never see a straight-up tennis match between an equally-ranked man and woman player: money.
The women are constantly griping that they don’t make as much money as the men. Well, if it were revealed that the best woman in the history of women’s tennis couldn’t beat the man ranked 350th in the world, any claim to a whole bunch of extra money would have significantly less credibility.
Serena Williams is a millionaire many, many times over, with lavish mansions and lucrative television and sponsorship contracts. To make ends meet, the 350th ranked male tennis player in the world probably has a second job in which he frequently says, “Would you like fries with that?” I exaggerate that last, but not much.