Former Wimbledon tennis champion Bobby Riggs, who became famous for his "battle of the sexes" tournament with Billie Jean King, has died at the age of 77, his brother said.
VARIOUS, UNITED STATES (FILE) (NBC)
1. BOBBY RIGGS PLAYING BILLIE JEAN KING IN 1973
2. BILLIE JEAN KING SAYING SHE KNEW THE MATCH WOULD BE HISTORIC, SHE KNEW SHE HAD TO FIND SOME WAY TO WIN (ENGLISH)
3. BILLIE JEAN KINGS WINS MATCH POINT IN 1973
4. RIGGS TELLING JIMMY CONNORS THAT HE SHOULD PLAY MARTINA NAVRATILOVA AND RESCUE HIM (ENGLISH)
5. STILL OF RIGGS IN LATER LIFE (MUTE)
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Background: Former Wimbledon tennis champion Bobby Riggs, who became famous for his "battle of the sexes" tournament with Billie Jean King, has died at the age of 77, his brother said.
John Riggs said his younger brother died at his California home in suburban Leucadia on Wednesday night with his son Billy and his daughter Dorothy, along with his long-time companion Lornie Kuhle, at his bedside.
Riggs was ranked number one in the world in 1939 when he won Wimbledon and the first of his American titles at the U.S.
Championships, later known as the U.S. Open.
But the sport's greatest hustler catapulted to notoriety when he declared that women belonged in the kitchen and not on the tennis courts and challenged Billie Jean King to a duel at the Houston Astrodome before a record crowd of 30,000 and a TV audience of 50 million.
Riggs, who was 55 when he took on 29-year-old King at the height of the women's liberation movement, lost the 1973 best-of-five match 3-0 in an event which helped legitimise women's tennis.
He was diagnosed eight years ago with prostate cancer and established the Bobby Riggs Tennis Museum Foundation in San Diego in 1994 to encourage youngsters to take up the game and promote awareness and prevention of prostate cancer.
Riggs was born in Los Angeles in February, 1918, and began playing tennis at the age of 12. In addition to his singles titles he won the Wimbledon doubles and mixed doubles in 1939 and the U.S.
mixed doubles in 1940. He was also a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1938 and 1939.