Vintage Bodies

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Bobby Riggs

Photograph By C Gunther/

Yes, Bobby Riggs was a sex symbol--just not in the traditional sense. A tennis hustler and former Wimbledon and two-time U.S. Open champion, the 55-year-old Riggs revived his tennis career by challenging and beating Margaret Court, the No. 1-ranked female player in the world, on Mother's Day in 1973. (That was the year this photograph was taken.) Riggs' victory set the stage for the even bigger, more bally-hooed "Battle of the Sexes" with Billie Jean King on Sept. 20 of '73 in the Astrodome. King claimed the $100,000 winner-take-all prize with a straight-three-set victory, thus destroying the myth that a former male champion could spot a U.S. top-ranked female 26 years and still beat her. But in the years after the match, the rivalry gave way to mutual respect and affection. Before Riggs died in 1995, King's last words to Riggs were, "I love you."