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Riggs, Bobby

("BOBBY"), U.S. tennis player (b. Feb. 25, 1918, Los Angeles, Calif.--d. Oct. 25, 1995, Leucadia, Calif.), was one of the top-ranked U.S. players in the 1930s and '40s but was best known for his participation in the 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" with Billie Jean King. After making disparaging comments regarding women's tennis, Riggs, a self-proclaimed "chauvinist pig," challenged Margaret Smith Court to a match and won it. His subsequent challenge to King produced a quite different result, however. Before a record crowd of 30,472 spectators at the Houston (Texas) Astrodome and a television audience of some 50 million, King won all three sets in an event that helped to elevate women's tennis to the status of a major sport. Riggs began taking tennis lessons at age 12 and progressed rapidly. At 18 he was ranked fourth in the U.S., and in 1939, at the age of 21, he was first in the world. Riggs was on the 1938 and 1939 Davis Cup teams, and in 1939, at Wimbledon, he won the singles, men's doubles, and mixed doubles titles. He also won the first of his U.S. championships in 1939. After turning professional (1941), Riggs won the 1942 and 1947 U.S. doubles titles, with Don Budge, and the 1946, 1947, and 1949 U.S. singles titles. He quit professional tennis in 1951, although he later played in senior events. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967. In 1994 Riggs formed the Bobby Riggs Tennis Museum Foundation to promote awareness of prostate cancer.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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