NEW YORK — Billie Jean King has hit back at claims made in an ESPN report that her historic 1973 match against Bobby Riggs, known as “The Battle of the Sexes,” was fixed.
In the report, which aired Sunday on Outside the Lines, Hank Shaw, who served as an assistant golf pro in Tampa, Fla., 40 years ago, told ESPN that he overheard well-connected members of the mafia discussing a plan for Riggs to tank the match in order to satisfy a gambling debt. Shaw said he’s decided to come forward to get the story off his chest.
You can watch the full ESPN report here:
“This story is just ridiculous,” King said in a statement. “I was on the court with Bobby and I know he was not tanking the match. I could see in his eyes and body language he wanted to win. People need to accept he had a bad day at the office — just as Margaret Court did when she played Bobby. It was 40 years ago and I won the match and I am 100% sure Bobby wanted to win as badly as I did. Those who bet against me lost money, but the result is the same today as it was 40 years ago.”
Venus Williams was asked about the report after her first-round win over Kirsten Flipkens at the U.S. Open. She was unaware of the ESPN story but did not take kindly to the insinuation that King didn’t win the match fair and square. With a slight edge in her voice she dismissed the idea of a match fix.
“I would seriously doubt that,” Williams said.