This Day in History (20-Sep-1973) – King triumphs in Battle of Sexes

In 1961, at age 17, during her first outing to Wimbledon, Billie Jean King  won the women’s doubles title. King would rack up a total of 20 Wimbledon victories, in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, over the course of her trailblazing career. In 1971, she became the first female athlete to earn more than $100,000 in prize money in a single season. In 1972, she was the first woman to be chosen Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year” and in 1973, she became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. However, significant pay disparities still existed between men and women athletes and King lobbied hard for change. In 1973, the U.S. Open became the first major tennis tournament to hand out the same amount of prize money to winners of both sexes. Bobby Riggs, 55, a 1939 Wimbledon champion,  a former No. 1 ranked men’s player and a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, not agreeing with equality of women players boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. King challenged the Rigg’s claim.

On this day in 1973, a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match was held at Houstan, Texas. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.

King also established a sports foundation and magazine for women and a team tennis league. In 1974, as a coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, one of the teams in the league, she became the first woman to head up a professional co-ed team. The “mother of modern sports” retired from tennis with 39 Grand Slam career titles. In 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed in King’s honor.

 

Reference:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/king-triumphs-in-battle-of-sexes

https://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00016060.html

This Day in History (20-Jul-1969) – Armstrong walks on moon

Since 1966 to March 1969, NASA launched Apollo 7 to Apollo 10 missions to establish possibility of human landing on the moon. On July 16, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a message: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Armstrong later confirmed that landing was his biggest concern, saying “the unknowns were rampant,” and “there were just a thousand things to worry about.”

At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon. Aldrin joined him shortly, and offered a simple but powerful description of the lunar surface: “magnificent desolation.” They explored the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs. They left behind an American flag, a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle’s legs which reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” At 1:11 a.m. on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon, and at 1:54 p.m. the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module on return journey.

 

Reference:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/armstrong-walks-on-moon

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/apollo11.html