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Billie Jean may be remembered most for the match she played against Bobby Riggs in 1973, which was promoted as "The Tennis Battle of the Sexes." The event is the most-watched tennis match in history, with 50 million viewers tuning in.

She defeated Bobby Riggs and opened the door to the idea of endless possibilities for women—empowering them and giving them hope. Billie Jean says she thinks she won because because she respected who Bobby was and what he had accomplished.

Reflecting on the match, Billie Jean says she knew it was more than a game of tennis. It was about social change. She wanted to create equal opportunity for men and women and knew this match would allow her to do so. "That was such a defining moment for me when I played Bobby Riggs, because I knew it was about social change," she says. "This was a forum that I would never have again."

Even though Billie Jean won, she says she still has nightmares about it today. "I wake up in a sweat thinking, 'God, I haven't played that match,'" Billie Jean says. "[Then] I go: 'Billie, you're 64. It's okay. It's over. It's over.'"
FROM: Women Who Changed the World
Published on October 16, 2008


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