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Men versus Women Tennis Matches

There is a long history of female tennis players thinking they can compete with the men, and finding out that it is not as easy as they think. There have been several high profile tennis matches between men and women, and despite the men generally getting the upper hand in these matches, there are some who still think that the best women in the world could be competitive against the men. Let's look at some of these matches.

Tilden v Lenglen

Two of the greats of the 1920's are said to have played a match, with Will Tilden beating Suzanne Lenglen to love in a couple of sets.

Phil Neer v Helen Wills Moody

A dominant player from the 1920s and 30s, Helen Wills Moody routinely practiced against men. On January 28, 1933, she played her friend and occasional mixed doubles partner Phil Neer in an exhibition match in San Francisco, beating him in straight sets, 6–3, 6–4. Neer was the eighth-ranked American male player at the time, and Moody was the reigning Wimbledon champion.

Bobby Riggs v Margaret Court

Probably the most famous tennis battle of the sexes took place in 1973, between Bobby Riggs, winner of the Wimbledon men's singles title in 1939, who was aged 55 and still playing some tennis in 1973 but was well past his prime. He defeated female player Margaret Court in a match on Mother's Day 1973, the score 6-2. 6-1. Court had achieved the Grand Slam in 1970, so was at her peak.

women v men tennis match women v men game

Bobby Riggs v Billie Jean King

Immediately after Bobby Riggs had beaten Margaret Court, he challenged the current women's champion Billie Jean King. The match against King was highly hyped in an endless series of press conferences and feature articles, with King becoming the poster child for the entire women's liberation movement. The match was held on September 20, 1973, with King easily beating Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. What point does this make, a female champion of the day beating an old guy well past his prime?

Jimmy Connors v Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova (aged 36) played a match against the retired Jimmy Connors (aged 40) on 25 September 1992 at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Navratilova lost 7-5, 6-2, even though she was allowed two serves to Conner's one and played to the doubles court.

Karsten Braasch v the Williams Sisters

During the 1998 Australian Open, sisters Serena and Venus Williams boasted that they could beat any man ranked outside the world's top 200. The challenge was accepted by Karsten Braasch, a German player ranked No 203 (his highest ranking was No 38). Before the matches, Braasch played a round of golf in the morning, drank a couple of beers, smoked a few cigarettes, and then played the Williams sisters for a set each, one after the other. He defeated Serena, 6-1, and Venus, 6-2. Serena said afterwards "I didn't know it would be that hard. I hit shots that would have been winners on the women's tour and he got to them easily."

In 1999 when Serena Williams was 18 and ranked 4th in the world, she re-opened the debate on whether women can compete with men in professional sport. The US Open champion believed she could take on and beat the best players in the men's game - she even applied for a wild card entry to take part in a men's singles event, the Eurocard Open, but this did not eventuate, mainly because she could not compete as she was not a man.

Yannick Noah v Justine Henin

Yannick Noah and Justine Henin played a friendly match at the Forest National in Brussels in December 2003. It was not a serious match at all - Noah wore a dress for much of the match, and played mostly trick shots and slices, but still ended up winning 4–6, 6–4, 7–6.

Andy Murray v Serena Williams

Andy Murray and Serena Williams agreed to a Battle of the Sexes match to be held in Vegas in 2013. Serena asked to play alleys (the full doubles court) and to play on clay. Unfortunately this match never eventuated.

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