The professional tennis scene might always remember a part of its history, the 1973 exhibition match between Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King, the so-called “Battle of the Sexes”. A reported 90 million audience around the world saw the best male and female tennis players of the time in a singles match, which was won by the latter, King, in three sets. Such male vs. female tennis-player matches have recurred on and off over the years, whether in exhibition or indirectly as mixed doubles matches in official tournaments. “Battle of the Sexes” fever arose again with the recently-concluded 2019 Hopman Cup, where the final mixed doubles match featured current legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
ESPN reports that a new Battle of the Sexes took place in the mixed doubles match between tennis players from Switzerland and the US which took place Tuesday, January 1. That is because the Swiss team had Roger Federer and the Americans had Serena Williams on side. This would be the first time the two current-generation tennis greats have ever competed against one another (though with doubles partners). In three hard-fought sets Federer and his partner Belinda Bencic made Switzerland proud by outplaying Serena and Frances Tiafoe, 4-2, 4-3 (5-3).
Of course, both being some of the most popular and strongest players in the sport, Federer and Serena have come into their mixed doubles match with some expectations about how the other is like on the court. “I was nervous returning (Williams’ serve),” notes The Swiss powerhouse. “People talk about her serve so much and I see why it is such a wonderful serve because you just can’t read it.”
The younger Williams sister could not agree more. “It was so fun. This is super cool that we get to do it at such a pinnacle point of our careers,” gushes Serena. “I was so excited, and literally it was the match of my career. Just playing someone so great, and someone you admire so much, and a match that actually means something.” And the 14,000 capacity crowd at the Hopman Cup venue in Perth Arena certainly got their money’s worth as the two world champions, both age 37, played their utmost during the epic game and then got together for an epic selfie afterwards.
With the USA team’s now-consecutive defeats (they also lost to Greece Monday, December 31) they can no longer advance in the Group B bracket. Team Switzerland, with Roger Federer leading, needs only to beat Greece this Thursday, January 3, to get a shot at the finals on Saturday, January 5.
Image from Daily Express UK