‘Obama Was 12 Years Old..’- 5 Decades After Game-Changing Move, Billie Jean King Stamps the Profound Impact of Her Bobby Riggs Battle

Published 10/13/2023, 2:10 PM EDT

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Billie Jean King is a name in the tennis world that will live forever. The woman who turned around and revolutionized the sport for men and women can never be forgotten. King gave all her life and more than 50 years to fight authorities and other men to create a space for women in tennis. Not just that, she also fought for pay equality for women and men as she played herself.

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Her entire life is an exemplary exhibit of how one person’s effort can change it all. The impact she made was not limited to just women, but men too. And one of the men who was impacted by her remarkable act was none other than Barack Obama.

Billie Jean King inspired Barack Obama with her contribution to women’s tennis

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A turning point in King’s life was the match she had against Bobby Riggs. This was the first match where BJK was paid an equal amount of money as a woman as Bobby would have gotten if he had played. The two had signed an agreement in 1973 that the winner would receive $100,000 if they won.

The agreement in itself was a win as the prize for the man and the woman was equal. And to everyone’s pleasant surprise, Billie won too. The match was seen by 90 million people worldwide including the 12-year-old Barack Obama.

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In a recent interview, King shared how Obama was impacted by the results of this match. She said, “Obama was 12 years old when he saw the King-Riggs match. He said it affected him a lot. Guys are much better at thinking about their daughters than they used to be. All these things add up.”

The effect she had with the match was not only limited to women but also men as they became more aware and responsible towards their own daughters than they were before. Of course, this includes Obama as well.

But Barack Obama is not the only one who was impacted. BJK’s impact continues to echo even 50 years later. And it was evident in Coco Gauff’s US Open winning speech.

Coco Gauff also thanked BJK for her continued contribution to women’s sports

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After Coco Gauff won the US Open Grand Slam tournament, she was given her winning prize. And it was equal to the ATP tour for the Grand Slam. This is why in her winning speech, she made sure to mention King as emotions overwhelmed her.

 

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A post shared by Coco Gauff (@cocogauff)

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In her speech, she thanked King for her contribution and for making her win an equal moment. If it wasn’t for King, the grand slams would still be paying less to women as compared to men.

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Written by:

Ishmeet Kaur

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Ishmeet Kaur is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. Although she completed her Masters in Business Administration, her passion for writing motivated her to hone her skills as a Content Writer. After sharpening her skills in writing and managing content, Ishmeet finally stepped into her dream field: sports journalism.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph

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