Billy Jean King vs Bobby Riggs
In 1973, pros Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs faced off in a tennis game that became known as the famous “The Battle of the Sexes.” Fifty million people in the U.S. and 90 million worldwide watched 29-year-old King play against 55-year-old Riggs at the Houston Astrodome. King made a stunning comeback after falling behind during the first set. She won all three sets, winning 6 to 3 in the third set.
King went on to lead the fight for women’s equality in tennis, forcing the U.S. Open to pay equal prize money for women as far back as 1973. This was an incredible achievement, especially when you consider that Wimbledon and Roland-Garros didn’t offer equal prizes until well into the next century. Fellow tennis legend Martina Navratilova summed up King’s contribution when she described her as “a crusader fighting a battle for all of us.
Karsten Braasch vs the Williams Sisters
During the 1998 Australian Open, sisters Serena and Venus Williams boasted that they could beat any man ranked outside the world’s top 200. The challenge was accepted by Karsten Braasch, a German player ranked No 203 (his highest ranking was No 38).
He defeated Serena, 6-1, and Venus, 6-2. Serena said afterwards “I didn’t know it would be that hard. I hit shots that would have been winners on the women’s tour and he got to them easily.
Danica Patrick Breaks Barriers At NASCAR
Danica Patrick is not only considered the most successful woman in the history of American car racing. Stock car racing since her youth, Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008, becoming the first and only woman to win an IndyCar Series race. In 2009, Patrick placed third in the Indianapolis 500 and marked the highest finish by a female driver in that race. In 2013, she became the first female NASCAR driver to take a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Carissa Moore Scores Surfing Title
Carissa Moore has won several women’s competitions, but her most important victory came in 2007 when she won the Quicksilver King of the Groms event against male competitors. In 2011, Moore was the first female to earn a wild card entry spot into the Men’s Triple Crown of Surfing.
Moore has also inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame.
Surfing is another sport that has helped lift gender barriers. The World Surf League is the first US-based global sporting league to offer equal pay to male and female competitors. Surfing will also make an Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.