Pine Nuts: When Billie beat Bobby |

Pine Nuts: When Billie beat Bobby

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

I can’t wait to see this new movie about the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, “Battle of the Sexes.”

I remember that 1973 match so well, because I bet so heavily on Riggs. King was 29 and at the top of her game. Riggs was 55, but could shave the fuzz off the ball with his slice, and could take you to places on the court you had never been before.

Thirty thousand raving fans packed the Astrodome for a match that would be watched by 90 million television viewers, me, and my five housemates made 90 million and six.

At the time, I was living in a six-bedroom house on the beach at Sprecklesville, Maui, with five lady schoolteachers. It sounds idyllic but it wasn’t, until this match came along, and I was able to place a twenty dollar bet with each of my housemates. So confident was I in Riggs that I went out and spent my winnings before the match was even played.

To make matters worse, I announced on my morning radio show that if Riggs lost I would wear a muumuu to work the next day. Well, if you are old enough to remember, Riggs tanked, and I had to buy up all the negatives of the photographs of me and my muumuu, that didn’t fit that well in the first place. My roommates framed and hung one of the photos that got away from me on the wall in the living room, and took to calling me, “Bobby.”

Now, I don’t now how the movie ends, but I can tell you how it ended for me. I pulled a yoo-ee. In one of the miracles of human nature, I went 180 degrees from pulling for the guys to pulling for the girls.

That tennis match was a sideshow compared to what was really going on in the battle of the sexes in the ’70s, yet it served to open the minds and eyes of many a misguided chauvinist like me, and announce to the world, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

Suddenly, I found myself backing Title IX, equal pay for women, equal prize money for women, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and protecting women from abuse and violence, things I had never thought much about, nor talked much about.

When King was later sued by her lady lover for some of Billie Jean’s considerable assets, I didn’t know whose side I was on, but finally sided with King, who ultimately won the suit, though while being outed, lost a few sponsors along the way. Today, I would boycott sponsors who dropped Billie Jean, were there any to boycott, and I hope there might be one or two old friends who knew me back in ‘73 who might today say, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

There’s no stopping me now. I’m determined to see 200 lady leaders of 200 world counties who will finally and forever put a lid on warfare, because we know for a fact that men cannot, and will not, ever be able to accomplish this illusive feat.

Well, I can’t wait to see the movie, “Battle of the Sexes,” and will close here with a shout-out I heard on a soccer field last Saturday, “You go girl!”

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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