With every tennis grand slam comes the argument whether women tennis deserve the same prize money as men. Wimbledon 2016 was no different as on our wimbledon prize money article we had a extensive debate where women should get the same prize money as men. Men has carried the sport for along time but women tennis has improved over the last couple of decades forcing all major grand slam to ensure equal pay scales for both genders. This argument took us a inevitable question. Can women compete with men ? has there been any cases of women versus men tennis match ?. So we decided to dig in this topic and here is some interesting facts regarding women versus men tennis.
Several times in past some of the top women tennis players claimed they could beat professional men tennis players and interestingly enough there were couple of high profile men vs women tennis matches also known as “Battle of the Sexes” and we take a look how things pan out.
Bobby Riggs vs Margaret Court (1973)
Bobby Riggs won Wimbledon in 1939 and two US open titles in 1939 and 1941 and he was ranked number one couple of times in his career. Apart from being a top tennis player he was a promoter as well and after his retirement he was still active in tennis. He often labled women tennis as inferior to mens tennis and claimed he could beat any of the current top female players even at the age of 55 and challenged top ranked tennis stars at that time.
Margaret Court who is the greatest female tennis player having won as many as 24 grand slam titles accepted the challenge and both played what was labeled as “battle of the sexes” back in May 1973. Bobby Riggs (age 55) comfortably defeated Margaret Court (age 30) with [6-2 ] [ 6-1 ].
Bobby Riggs vs Billie Jean King (1973)
After comfortably defeating Margaret Court, Bobby Riggs became even more vocal and started taunting top women tennis players which lead to Billie Jean King accepting his challenge. There was lucrative financial rewards for the winners take all match and immediately after announcement the hype train started all around US as media dubbed it as “Battle of the sexes”.
Bobby Riggs was confident that he will get the better of King but when the match started it was different story. Billie Jean King destroyed Riggs with a straight set win [6-4], [6-3], [6-3]. It was a historic event and to date the highest attended tennis match in the US with over 30,000 in crowd and 100 million viewers worldwide on TV. It was the turning point where Billie Jean King, the activist for equal pay, finally succeed in convincing tennis authorities around the world to raise women prize money. Although many tennis experts down player her success as Bobby Riggs was well past his best at the age of 55 while King was just 26 at the peak of her career.
Jimmy Connors vs Martina Navratilova (1992)
If the first two battle of the sexes matches were kind of biased as Bobby Riggs was 55 year old we had another match this time between two champions Jimmy Connors (age 40) and Martina Navratilova (age 35). Both Jimmy Connors and Navratilova were guaranteed $650,000 each plus $500,000 for the winner. To make it competitive Jimmy Connors was allowed only one serve per point while Novratilova could use doubles court.
The match was pretty competitive at the start but Connors came out on top with a [7-5] [6-2] scoreline.
Williams Sisters vs Karsten Braasch (1998)
Serena Williams and Venus Williams made headlines at the tender of of just 17 and 16 respectively and they were both regarded as next big things in women tennis. They claimed they could beat any men professional player ranked outside 200. In comes 27 year old Karsten Braasch who was ranked 203 in 1998 and he agreed to play both William sisters. He comfortably defeated Serena with [6-1] win in a single set match and also got the better of Venus with [6-2]. Both Serena and Venus revised their claims after the match and thought they would definitely beat someone outside 350 ranking.
Phil Neer vs Helen Wills (1933)
Helen Wills won 19 grand slam singles titles in women tennis and we can safely assume she was one of the best ever. She played Phil Neer aged 32 a former US national champion and defeated him quite comfortably with [6-3][6-4] scoreline.
Bill Tilden vs Suzanne Lenglen (1921)
American tennis star in early 1900s Bill Tilden won 7 US open titles and 3 Wimbledon during highly successful 10 year period (1920 to 1930). While at the peak of his powers in 1921 he played behind closed doors single set match against one of the greatest women tennis star Suzanne Lenglen and won the set 6-0. It was interesting matchup as both players were at top of their careers.
Other Matches: There are other instances of women playing against Men in tennis matches but not as competitive as the above games. Other encounters were more a less exhibitions including Djokovic playing Chinese star Li Na in 2013. Yannick Noah playing Justine Henin in 2003.