Riggs, Bobby

Riggs, Bobby

(Robert Larimore Riggs), 1918–95, U.S. tennis player, b. Los Angeles. Playing tennis from the age of 11, Riggs won several tournaments in the 1930s and helped the U.S. team win the Davis Cup in 1938. After winning the singles crown at Wimbledon (1939) and the U.S. National Championships (1939, 1941), he turned professional (1941). He won the national professional singles championship in 1946, 1947, and 1949. In May, 1973, he emerged from retirement as a professional tennis competitor to play Margaret CourtCourt, Margaret Smith,
1942–, Australian tennis player. Playing tennis from age eight, she rose to prominence in the early 1960s. Ranked first in world standings six times beginning in 1962, she retired in 1966, but returned to the game in 1968, and in 1970 became the
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, whom he defeated in a nationally televised winner-take-all match. Proclaiming the superiority of the male athlete over the female no matter what the age, he challenged Billie Jean KingKing, Billie Jean,
1943–, American tennis player, b. Long Beach, Calif., as Billie Jean Moffitt. King won 67 tournament titles and 20 Wimbledon titles, including singles in 1966–68, 1972–73, and 1975. She was the U.S.
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 to a match. Riggs was soundly defeated (Sept., 1973) by her before a national television audience and 30,492 spectators in Houston.

Riggs, (Robert Larimore) Bobby

(1918–  ) tennis player; born in Los Angeles. He began playing tennis seriously by age 11 and was tutored in his early years at tennis by two women, Dr. Esther Bartosh and the coach Eleanor Tennant. As an amateur, he helped the U.S.A. win the Davis Cup in 1938, then won the Wimbledon and U.S. singles in 1939; after winning the U.S. singles again in 1941, he turned professional and played for another ten years. In 1973 he emerged from retirement when he claimed that any half-decent male player could defeat even the best female players; he challenged Margaret Smith Court, then a leading woman player, to a winner-take-all match on national television and defeated a "psyched" Court (6–2, 6–1); pressing his point, later that year he played Billie Jean King, who routed him in three straight sets. But even though he was humiliated before millions of television viewers, he was smiling all the way to the bank, for it was known that he was an inveterate gambler and these television performances had netted him a handsome payoff; he continued to enjoy the limelight for some time as an over-the-hill hustler-player.