HOUSTON (AP) — “The Battle of the Sexes” was a 1973 exhibition tennis match pitting 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig, against Billy Jean King, a 29-year-old feminist icon and a top female player. It was more public-relations spectacle than test of athletic skill.

A boorish Riggs exploited women’s stereotypes for laughs, riling up his male supporters. King used the publicity to promote women’s rights, particularly equal pay.

King’s decisive victory in the match helped raise awareness of gender inequality in sports, but the entire event was little more than reality TV ahead of its time.

What follows is the AP’s match report — originally published Sept. 21, 1973 — which 44 years later reads like a reflection of the times.

___

HOUSTON (AP) — Bobby Riggs’ next big spectacle may be a leap off the Suicide Bridge in Pasadena, Calif., while Billie Jean King is happy to have made a spectacle of the 55-year-old hustler and to have won $200,000 to boot.

Screaming, delirious womens-libbers lit up more brightly than the rocket-shooting Astrodome scoreboard Thursday night when Mrs. King showed the devastating swiftness that won her five Wimbledon titles in defeating self-proclaimed male chauvinist Riggs, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in the internationally televised battle of the sexes tennis extravaganza.

“Bobby Riggs has just been flushed down the toilet,” shouted women’s pro tour member Madeliene Regal of Sweden after Mrs. King’s straight sets victory before 30,472 Astrodome fans and millions more television viewers.

Mrs. King, one of the most decorated warriors for…