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A Necessary Spectacle: Billie Jean King, Bobby Riggs, and the Tennis Match That Leveled the Game Hardcover – 16 Aug 2005

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Publishers (16 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400051460
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400051465
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 982,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very quick. I can't read it as fast. Thanks
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9375fb40) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x937745a0) out of 5 stars A necessary read! 26 Aug. 2005
By S. Schulz - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! I'm not a huge tennis fan so as I began reading, I was shocked at how quickly this story pulled me in and kept me fascinated. It's about so much more than tennis. The personalities and motivations of Billie Jean and Bobby were so thoroughly explored that as this spectacle of a match was becoming imminent, I could feel the pressure and the tension that must have been felt not only by them, but by many women and men in the 1970s as gender lines were being tested. This book did a great job of framing the importance of that one event, as circus-like as it was. Billie Jean and Bobby brought discussions of gender roles into people's living rooms that day and the consequences have paved the way for women and for the athletes we cheer on today. "A Necessary Spectacle" gave me new insight. Excellent!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x937745f4) out of 5 stars THE MATCH and how it changed the world 14 Sept. 2005
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle of this book 'the Tennis Match that Leveled the Game' isn't quite strong enough. This single match, called the 'Battle of the Sexes' was far, far more than a tennis match, and the aftereffect was far, far more than levelling the tennis game.

For a tennis standpoint, before The Match womens tennis was not a serious sport. The women played, but almost by themselves. The money, the sponsors, television, the fame wasn't there. After it was all there.

From a legal standpoint, The Match put power behind Title IX that required equal funding in schools for men and womens atheletic programs. From the overall women's rights viewpoint The Match was in 1973, so was Row v. Wade.

Ms. Roberts is a sports columnist. This training gives her a newspaper like writing style that is very well suited to the subject she is covering here. The book reads almost like a novel, an excellent novel but also conveys the impact of The Match that changed women's sports forever.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93774a2c) out of 5 stars Some questionable hypotheses 9 Aug. 2013
By JDC - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed the first few chapters of this book. They provide a cursory look at the careers of Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King; the "Mother's Day Massacre" of Margaret Court; and the events leading up to, during, and immediately following the Riggs-King match. My only issue with these chapters would be with those concerning the careers of Riggs and King. In both cases, the author jumps from each one of them struggling to make it big, to suddenly they are playing at Wimbledon. Some portion of both of their career paths is obviously omitted from the text.

Where the book really stumbles, however, is with the later chapters and the ludicrous hypotheses that without the Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs match of 1973, Title IX would never have been signed into law, the Williams sisters would never have made it big, and the ladies of the 1999 World Cup would have been ignored. In all three cases, that is a mighty big leap in logic to make.

The best definition of the Riggs-King match is in the title of this book...."spectacle". While it may have finally proven to some who had not yet realized it that watching a woman play tennis could be enjoyable, it certainly shouldn't be argued that it proved much else. BJK defeating a man who competed in Wimbledon before she was born certainly didn't prove that women's tennis and men's tennis were equal.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is the only book currently available to cover the subject of this memorable match. Therefore, it may be worth a look for the early chapters, as well as the chapters concerning Billie Jean's later years, Bobby's last years, and the insecurities possessed by each of them. However, take the conclusions that the author makes on the importance of this match with a grain of salt. Certainly there were other much more relevant events in sport that led to better opportunities for women than the circus in Houston.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93774df8) out of 5 stars Goes A Bit Off Track 25 April 2006
By Bradley F. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Some interesting archaeology about the now nearly forgotten King-Riggs tennis match. Roberts, of the NYT, brings to life how important this thing seemed at the time, even though it all looks decidedly quaint today. Where the author goes off is when she tries to relate this to the federal Title 9 law on equality for women in sports. It's a bit forced, even if valid. Perhaps it's the book's herky-jerky structure that is just not nuanced enough to make this work. She also includes some interesting background about the Williams sisters, the relevance being that they later reaped what Billie Jean King sowed, financially. Maybe so. In the end, Riggs comes off more sympathetic than pathetic, and King is a bit too deified. Still, this is some high quality social history about an episode whose effects still have an echo.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93774edc) out of 5 stars More apt .... "The Match of the Century" 13 May 2012
By Joe V - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Roberts can turn a phrase and capture vast or humorous thoughts with few words. A terrific piece on the social history and the rapid change that was occurring during the 70s ... on the heels of the tumult of the 60s. Probably no other sporting event featuring 1-on-1 opponents was more widely viewed and had more social and political impact in post WWII America than the Riggs v. King tennis extravaganza in September of 1973.

To this day, with an attendance of 30,492, still the largest live audience to see a single tennis match in US history....not to mention the 90 million who watched on television in the US and 36 countries. The battle of the sexes was/is really the battle for equality. "A Necessary Spectacle" is an entertaining read about the biggest "sports-entertainment-political" event of the past century which was fused into a huge fireball...and continues to burn. You will enjoy this book.
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