Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, Margaret discussed on Fresh Air Weekend

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Billie Jean King 40 years ago with Bobby Bobby Riggs before the famed tennis battle of the sexes. 1973. You obviously had a lot of joint appearances together with Bobby Riggs building up the attention for the mess. Did you feel like you got to know him at all? Well, actually, Bobby was one of my heroes. I love history. I knew all the champions in our sport preceding me, and I appreciate it any run the Triple crown at Wimbledon. I knew that the Second World War and actually hurt his career, which I felt bad for him because it didn't allow him to. Get the recognition he deserved. He was finally at least getting recognition. I don't know. I don't think most people realize what a great champion he he had been, even though I would tell them. I don't think they were really Tuned in that at the time. Well, yeah, he was 55 when he was doing. He was as old as my father. And I told them for me to beat him met absolutely nothing Athletically. Okay, nothing, but it's what it represented. And when Margaret lost You know, I didn't know if I was going to beat him. I did. I thought she would kill him. And right as far as wedding and she didn't so I'm like, Oh, boy, You never underestimate your opponent anyway. I mean, my parents, my dad. Oh, God, that was like he had two words. Always respect your opponent always always always respect them, no matter what. And secondly, never, ever under, estimate them ever. So these these things are just printed in my DNA. Almost so here's a hero of mine. He's He's going on and on about women in the bedroom and keep them pregnant, barefooted and all these things and I'm like, Oh, my God. He was funny, but, you know, I like Showtime. I love entertainment. And I think being a tennis player, your performer, So I got that part and I I thought you know what Bob? We just go for but I'm going to tell you I'm not letting you get under my skin. Because I didn't want him to think he could like he did, Margaret because I didn't get to see the match against Marco. I must tell you did this American masters. I got to see it once, and I didn't realize how badly Margaret played. And I felt so sorry for her because we've all been there. Every human being's been in these situations where you're You're not happy and you don't do well. And you choke. I mean athletes we choke. I mean champions just choke less. She had a horrible day at the office. So I felt so bad, but so It did T s up, though I must say it teamed us up the women's movement. Title nine the year before all the things that I've been fighting for forever equal opportunities for boys and girls. You know, it's funny because everybody talks about how this divided us actually brought everybody together. It did exactly what I wanted it had all these parties All these bets from people. Everybody was crazy at this time about this match. Well, what I wanted to ask you was. Do you think Bobby Riggs really held the strong beliefs about the role of women? Or was this just basically stick that he developed to get attention? Oh, I think you know, I think you're shamanistic. I think you probably over the top for the A match, but he's very kind person, but I think he's very chauvinist. I think he was chauvinistic. Great, but a really nice chauvinist, and he and I remain friends. Up until the day he died from prostate cancer. So the day the match arrives, and Riggs enters accompanied by a bunch of young women. You enter like Cleopatra carried on a train of muscular guys. This is obviously part of the show. Yeah, you felt OK about that. I felt great because It's showtime and Jerry Perenchio was quite sweet. You know, Before I came out, he said, I have this Egyptian litter would do you think he'd get it? I know your feminist you probably won't. I said, Are you kidding? It's showtime. This is perfect. Absolutely. I'll get up here. Let's have some fun. You know, the crowd deserves a good show. Obviously, I was about ready to die because I've got to win this match. I mean, the you know the reality of it, but I also your fans always come first. So, um Said. No, I'll get on there and he about fainted. He said. You will. I said, yes, of course I will show time. Let's hear a little bit of Showtime here. I want to listen to a little bit of Howard Cosell describing your entrance. Let's listen to this. It's like Monday night football. It's not the usual tennis atmosphere. It's not happening. Then Here comes Billy Jean King. Very attractive young lady if he ever let her hair grow down to her shoulders, Jacquard glasses off your have somebody find for Hollywood screen test. There she is. Mhm. And that's Howard Cosell reminding us it was 1973 when Billie Jean King played Bobby Riggs in the battle of the sexes, this whole.

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