Where Was Home When Billie Beat Bobby?
Published to The Tennis Channel on October 9, 2017
There’s the scene in “Battle of the Sexes” when Billie Jean King decides she must play Bobby Riggs. She’s in a phone booth and calls her husband Larry. Even though it’s the middle of the night, King demands that Larry call Riggs immediately. “If we’re gonna go, let’s go,” says King. And there is Larry, in their home, set to further drive the plot.
Where was home? Until 1966, home for King had been Southern California, her mind, heart and tennis game shaped by the Golden State’s wholesome growth in the ‘50s and, at least to some degree, the political and cultural volatility that begun bubbling in the ‘60s. On the campus of Cal State Los Angeles, the college she and Larry had attended, Billie Jean became aware of the injustice of a society where a woman like her – already one of the top five tennis players in the world – did not receive an athletic scholarship.