Indian Protest/Tennis Battle

Published: 1973
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI
Tennis great Billie Jean King waves to the crowd as she is introduced before the Springfield (Mo) Lasers and the St. Louis Aces World Team Tennis match at Dwight Davis Memorial Tennis Center in St. Louis on July 22, 2006. King did not play but appeared as a guest member of the Lasers. (UPI Photo/Bill Greenblatt)

Some 300 members of AIM, the American Indian Movement, demanding the Government start a full-scale investigation of Government treatment of Indians, seized a trading post and a church at historic Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Eleven persons were taken hostage on the Oglala Sioux Reservation. AIM leader Russell Means announced the Oglala Tribe's position.

Russell Means: "We do consider ourselves under attack and at war with the United States of America, and we are asking to all concerned, freedom-loving countries of the world aid us in our struggle for independence."

Ed Karrens: Negotiations continued for over two months; during that time the hostages were freed, hostilities reached the point of gunfire exchange and, as a result, one FBI agent and an Indian were shot. It all came to an end in May, when both sides agreed to meet on the Reservation to discuss the Indian charges.

Another famous battle took place during 1973. It didn't take place on your regular battlefield, but rather on a tennis court. It was the battle of the sexes. Fifty-five-year old Bobby Riggs, former tennis pro, bon vivant and modern-day hustler, challenged women pro tennis players to a match. He bragged that a flabby, fading, 55-year-old man could beat any woman tennis player, even the best. He was right once and wrong once.

In the first match against Australian pro Margaret Court, Riggs won in straight sets, seemingly out-psyching Court with those high-arching lob shots which seemed to throw her off balance.

American lady pro Billie Jean King took up the next challenge, and in a carnival atmosphere in the Houston Astrodome before a nationally televised audience, Billie Jean demolished Riggs with the same flair he had handled Margaret Court: straight sets.

At the end of the match, Billie Jean seemed more pleased over helping the game of tennis than in beating the top-seeded male chauvinist.

Billie Jean King: "I love tennis very much. I wanted it to change ever since I started in the sport. I thought it was just for the rich and just for the white, and ever since that day when I was 11 years old and I wasn't allowed in a photo because I wasn't wearing a tennis skirt, I knew then that I wanted to change the sport, and tonight we … a lot of non-tennis people saw tennis for the first time. I don't even care what kind of match it was."

Ed Karrens: As for Riggs? Well, what could he say?

Bobby Riggs: "I would say Billie was too good. I played my game, she didn't let me play any better. She was on top of me, she held my turf beautifully and she followed her serve up really well and hit it overhand well and volleyed it extremely well."