The Legacy of the Battle of the Sexes Tennis Match and the unexpected mixed single

The Legacy of the Battle of the Sexes Tennis Match and the unexpected mixed single

50 years ago, the legendary Billie Jean King starred in a historic match, dubbed at the time “the Battle of the Sexes.” It is worth remembering as an introduction: Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon champion, then a tennis promoter, made derogatory comments towards the tennis players and assured that they should return “to the kitchen, their natural place.”

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After winning a match by a wide margin against Margaret Court, Riggs, who was 55 years old, challenged King, then the world number 1. King accepted the challenge, certain that the future of a still nascent women’s professional circuit was at stake.

That game was played on September 20, 1973, at the Astrodome Arena in Houston, before more than 30,000 spectators and 50 million television viewers. King won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, giving the women’s tour a phenomenal boost. In honor of her commitment to the sport and her social activism, the United States Tennis Federation (USTA) named the central complex of Flushing Meadows, home of the US Open, after her.

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There were, before and after that singular duel, several crossings between men and women, on both sides of the court. Closer in time, Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova met; then, the German Karsten Braasch, below 200th in the ranking, surpassed the sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

Obviously, neither meeting was official. The only regulated mixed matches are those played in the Grand Slams and the Olympic Games.

Well: when no one expected it, this Sunday another mixed single was played. It was not something premeditated, but rather it occurred according to a series of unexpected circumstances that took place at the Négométal Open in Bourg-de-Péage, France, one of the many exhibition events taking place these weeks, in the that tennis players combine fun with preparation, ahead of the start of the 2024 season.

In that contest there was a men’s team, which included the French Arthur Rinderknech, Lucas Pouille and Adrian Mannarino, the Belgian David Goffin and the Australian Alex de Miñaur, and another women’s team, with the participation of the French Varvara Gracheva, the Russian Mirra Andreeva and the Croatian Donna Vekic.

But there was one change: Vekic was injured, and she was replaced by Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk. But Kostyuk, 39th in the ranking, in a way already knew that she probably wouldn’t be able to play either, since she made the decision not to face any rival from Russia, in retaliation for the Russian invasion of her country.

The youthful Andreeva, who at just 16 years old is already 57th in the world, beat Gracheva and advanced to the final of the exhibition. Kostyuk, of course, refused to face the Russian junior.

What solution did the organizers find? In a statement, they expressed that “for reasons that go beyond our will, and due to the geopolitical context in Ukraine, Marta Kostyuk decided not to compete. And unfortunately we have very little time to find a replacement. So we made the decision to have our player Yunis Ghazouani Durand”, who emerged from that region, compete.

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Thus, the exhibition featured a match between a young woman located in the Top 60 of the WTA and the French Yanis Ghazouani-Durand, 23 years old and 1145th in the ranking, without matches at the ATP level, with only six tournaments played in 2023 .

The result? Ghazouani-Durand won 7-5 and 6-2, in one hour and 20 minutes of action, in a match played on a hard court and indoors in Vourg-de Péage, in the district of Valence, about 500 kilometers north south of Paris.

The match was quite even until the end of the first set, when Ghazouani broke Andreeva’s serve; The second set had the young Frenchman as the clear dominator, who unexpectedly found the minutes of recognition by winning one of those duels that transcend the singularity.

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With information from La Nación de Argentina (GDA).

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2023-12-18 23:00:00
#Tennis #match #France #man #woman #relives #battle #sexes #Tennis #Sports

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