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May 29, 2021

Farrah Fawcett Attending the “Celebrity Battle of the Sexes” Tennis Tournament in Mission Viejo, California, 1977

Actress Farrah Fawcett attends the taping of “Celebrity Battle of the Sexes” tennis tournament on April 3, 1977 at Marguerite Park in Mission Viejo, California. She teams her tanned limbs and tomboy-ish Adidas shorts and T-shirt with a silk scarf for a touch of glamour.

Hollywood stars compete in a series of athletic events, men versus the ladies, to prove who was the superior sex. This special game show and those that followed each six-months at CBS, was an evolution from the station’s “Challenge of the Sexes” (1976), which had cast everyday people, and “Battle of the Network Stars” (1976).

In tennis, “Battle of the Sexes” describes various exhibition matches played between a man and a woman, or a doubles match between two men and two women in one case. The term is most famously used for an internationally televised match in 1973 held at the Houston Astrodome between 55 year-old Bobby Riggs and 29 year-old Billie Jean King, which King won in three sets. The match was viewed by an estimated fifty million people in the United States and ninety million worldwide

Two other matches commonly referred to as a “battle of the sexes” include one held four months earlier in 1973 between Riggs and Margaret Court over the best of three sets, and one in 1992 between Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova over the best of three sets, with hybrid rules favoring the female player dubbed “The Battle of Champions.”

At least eight other exhibition matches have been played between notable male and female tennis players starting in 1888, though only some of them were referred to at the time as a “battle of the sexes.”


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