Why is Bobby Riggs Not Playing?

Max Schnur

why is bobby riggs not playing

Bobby Riggs, a name synonymous with tennis excellence, left an indelible mark on the sport during his illustrious career. As the World’s No. 1 amateur in 1939 and a formidable presence on the court, Riggs captivated audiences with his skills and flamboyant personality. However, today, we find ourselves asking: Why is Bobby Riggs not playing? 

Throughout his career, Riggs achieved extraordinary success, capturing the attention of fans worldwide. From his early rise to becoming the top-ranked amateur to his legendary matches and rivalries, Riggs played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of tennis during the mid-20th century.

Join us on this journey as we uncover the legacy of Bobby Riggs, unravel the events that shaped his departure, and pay homage to a tennis champion who continues to inspire players and fans alike.

The Rise of Bobby Riggs

Riggs’ Early Career and Rapid Success

Bobby Riggs’ journey in the world of tennis began with an impressive start. Born on February 25, 1918, Riggs quickly displayed exceptional talent and passion for the sport.

As a young player, he honed his skills, tirelessly dedicating himself to mastering the nuances of the game. Riggs’ natural abilities and unwavering determination propelled him forward, and he soon made his mark on the tennis scene.

In his early career, Riggs showcased remarkable potential, catching the attention of both fans and fellow players. His agility, strategic approach, and powerful shots set him apart from his peers.

Riggs’ exceptional technique combined with his ability to adapt to different playing styles allowed him to dominate opponents and secure victories.

Achievements as Becoming World No. 1 Amateur

Bobby Riggs’ rise to becoming the World No. 1 amateur in 1939 marked a significant milestone in his career. His hard work, perseverance, and consistent performance on the court earned him this prestigious title.

Riggs’ ascent to the top of the rankings came as a result of numerous remarkable achievements and notable victories.

Throughout the late 1930s, Riggs consistently exhibited exceptional talent and a competitive spirit. His impressive tournament record and consistent wins against top-ranked opponents solidified his position as one of the most formidable players of his time.

Riggs’ ability to adapt to various playing conditions and maintain a high level of consistency allowed him to climb the ranks rapidly.

In 1939, Riggs reached the pinnacle of his amateur career, claiming the coveted title of World No. 1. This achievement not only brought him personal acclaim but also solidified his reputation as a force to be reckoned with on the tennis court.

Riggs’ rise to the top demonstrated his exceptional skill, unwavering determination, and sheer love for the game.

Bobby Riggs’ early career and rapid success laid the foundation for his future endeavors in the world of tennis. His talent and achievements during this period set the stage for the impactful years that would follow, shaping his legacy as a tennis icon.

The Impactful Years

Riggs’ Role in Shaping Tennis During 1940s and 1950s

As Bobby Riggs entered the 1940s and 1950s, his influence on the sport of tennis continued to grow. During this period, Riggs played a significant role in shaping the game both on and off the court.

His charisma, strategic prowess, and dedication to the sport left an indelible mark on tennis history.

Riggs’ impact extended beyond his exceptional skills as a player. He actively engaged in promoting and popularizing tennis, contributing to the growth and development of the sport.

Riggs’ captivating personality and showmanship drew in large crowds, transforming tennis matches into highly anticipated events. His ability to entertain and engage audiences helped elevate tennis to new heights of public interest and excitement.

Furthermore, Riggs played a pivotal role in advocating for equality and breaking gender barriers within the sport. His legendary “Battle of the Sexes” match against Billie Jean King became an iconic moment in tennis history, sparking conversations about gender equality and women’s representation in sports.

Famous Matches With Other Tennis Legends

Bobby Riggs’ career was punctuated by memorable matches and intense rivalries with some of the greatest tennis players of his time. These battles showcased his competitive spirit and made him a figure of intrigue within the tennis community.

One of Riggs’ most renowned matches was his encounter with Don Budge in the 1942 Wimbledon final. The clash between the two tennis titans captivated audiences worldwide.

Riggs, known for his versatility and adaptability, faced off against Budge, a formidable opponent. The match showcased the exceptional skill and mental fortitude of both players, cementing Riggs’ reputation as a worthy adversary.

Another unforgettable rivalry for Riggs was with Pancho Gonzales. The two engaged in a series of legendary matches that enthralled fans. Riggs and Gonzales pushed each other to their limits, showcasing the highest level of tennis prowess.

Their fierce competition and mutual respect brought out the best in both players and solidified their places in tennis history.

However, it was Riggs’ “Battle of the Sexes” matches that etched his name in tennis lore. In 1973, Riggs famously challenged women’s tennis champion Billie Jean King to a highly publicized exhibition match.

The first of these matches saw Riggs face Margaret Court, which he won convincingly. The subsequent showdown with King became a historic moment, with King triumphing over Riggs, cementing her status as a trailblazer for gender equality in sports.

Bobby Riggs’ famous matches and rivalries showcased his tenacity, skill, and willingness to push the boundaries of the sport. His encounters with other tennis legends left an indelible impact on the game, creating unforgettable moments that continue to be celebrated and analyzed to this day.

The Battle of the Sexes

Historical Context Up to the Match Against Billie

The Battle of the Sexes match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King held tremendous historical significance, particularly in the context of gender equality and women’s representation in sports.

To understand the importance of this match, we must consider the prevailing societal attitudes and the evolving landscape of women’s tennis at the time.

In the early 1970s, women’s tennis was undergoing a transformative period. Billie Jean King, a trailblazer for women’s rights in sports, played a pivotal role in advocating for equal pay and opportunities for female athletes.

Riggs, known for his flamboyant personality, recognized an opportunity to challenge the notion of male superiority in sports and capitalize on the public’s fascination with the battle of the sexes.

Significance in Challenging Gender Stereotypes

The Battle of the Sexes match took place on September 20, 1973, at the Houston Astrodome, and it garnered immense media attention and public interest.

Riggs, at the age of 55, faced off against Billie Jean King, who was 26 years his junior and one of the top female players of the time.

The match unfolded as a spectacle, with Riggs employing his characteristic showmanship to entertain the crowd. The event transcended the boundaries of a typical tennis match, becoming a cultural phenomenon and a symbol of the broader struggle for gender equality.

In a highly competitive and closely contested match, Billie Jean King emerged as the victor, defeating Riggs in straight sets. Her victory not only showcased her exceptional skill but also shattered the prevalent perception that women’s tennis was inferior to men’s.

The match became a watershed moment, challenging deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and elevating women’s sports on a global scale.

The significance of the Battle of the Sexes match extended far beyond the tennis court. It sparked a broader conversation about gender equality and women’s empowerment, capturing the attention of the public and inspiring a new generation of female athletes.

King’s triumph provided a platform for advocating for equal pay and recognition for female athletes, leaving an enduring legacy in the fight for gender equality in sports.

The Battle of the Sexes match remains a seminal moment in tennis history, symbolizing the ongoing struggle for equal representation and opportunities for women in sports.

By challenging gender stereotypes and showcasing the incredible talent and athleticism of female athletes, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs forever changed the landscape of tennis and paved the way for a more inclusive and equitable future in sports.

Post-retirement Ventures

Riggs’ Activities After Retiring From Professional Tennis

After retiring from professional tennis, Bobby Riggs remained an active and dynamic figure, exploring various ventures beyond the confines of the tennis court.

Riggs’ post-retirement years were marked by a diverse range of activities that showcased his entrepreneurial spirit and love for competition.

One notable area of Riggs’ post-retirement involvement was in the realm of other sports. He ventured into professional golf and paddleball, bringing his competitive drive and skills to these new arenas.

Riggs’ passion for sports extended beyond tennis, and he embraced the opportunity to test his abilities and challenge himself in different athletic pursuits.

Additionally, Riggs actively engaged in business ventures, leveraging his name and reputation to forge partnerships and capitalize on his sporting fame.

He delved into various entrepreneurial endeavors, such as sports promotions, endorsements, and even opening a tennis club. Riggs’ business ventures allowed him to stay connected to the world of sports and capitalize on his status as a renowned athlete.

Involvement in Other Sports, Business Ventures, and Media Appearances

Riggs’ involvement in other sports extended beyond mere participation. He sought to bring entertainment and showmanship to these endeavors, much like he did in his tennis career.

Riggs participated in high-profile exhibition matches in golf, playing against renowned golfers and adding his unique flair to the game. His participation not only showcased his skills but also brought attention and excitement to these sports.

In the realm of business ventures, Riggs utilized his name and status to engage in promotional activities and endorsements. He became an ambassador for various sports brands, lending his image and expertise to endorse products and services.

Riggs’ business acumen and ability to captivate audiences with his personality made him a sought-after figure in the commercial realm.

Riggs also made frequent media appearances, utilizing his charm and wit to entertain audiences beyond the sports arena. He became a television commentator, providing expert analysis and commentary on tennis matches and other sports events.

Riggs’ charisma and extensive knowledge of the game made him a respected and beloved figure in the world of sports broadcasting.

Furthermore, Riggs made guest appearances on talk shows, engaging in humorous banter and showcasing his larger-than-life persona. His ability to entertain and engage audiences through various media platforms solidified his status as a charismatic sports personality.

Throughout his post-retirement years, Bobby Riggs continued to make his presence felt in the world of sports, business, and media. His involvement in other sports, entrepreneurial ventures, and media appearances demonstrated his versatility and his unwavering passion for staying connected to the world that had brought him so much success.

Bobby Riggs’ Final Years

Riggs’ Life After His Retirement

Following his retirement from professional tennis and the various ventures he pursued, Bobby Riggs enjoyed a relatively quiet life outside of the spotlight.

He continued to stay connected to the tennis community, providing occasional commentary and insights into the sport. Riggs also remained involved in charity work, using his platform and influence to contribute positively to society.

In his later years, Riggs focused on spending time with his family and nurturing his personal relationships. While his active involvement in the tennis world diminished, his impact on the sport and his legacy as a tennis champion remained intact.

Riggs’ Passing and Impact on the Tennis Community

On October 25, 1995, Bobby Riggs passed away, leaving a void in the tennis community and among his fans. His death marked the end of an era and served as a reminder of the indelible impact he had made on the sport.

Riggs’ passing was met with an outpouring of tributes from the tennis community and beyond. Players, fans, and sports enthusiasts mourned the loss of a legendary figure who had brought excitement, entertainment, and skill to the game.

Riggs’ charismatic personality, his role in shaping tennis history, and his contributions to the sport were remembered and celebrated.

While his final years may not have been as prominently highlighted as his active playing career, Bobby Riggs’ passing served as an opportunity for reflection on his lasting legacy.

The impact he made, particularly through his Battle of the Sexes match and his advocacy for gender equality, continued to inspire athletes and spark conversations about inclusivity and equal representation in sports.

Bobby Riggs’ legacy lives on in the annals of tennis history. His final years were a testament to his enduring impact and the mark he left on the sport and its community.

Though no longer with us, his contributions and influence continue to resonate, ensuring that his name remains etched in the hearts of tennis fans and is forever remembered as a trailblazer in the world of sports.

Major Achievements of Bobby Riggs

World No. 1 Amateur Ranking1939Reached the top spot in amateur tennis rankings
Wimbledon Championships1939Won the men’s singles title
US Open Championships1939Won the men’s singles title
Wimbledon Championships1947Won the men’s singles title
Battle of the Sexes1973Engaged in iconic match against Billie Jean King


Did Bobby Riggs have any significant coaching or mentoring roles in tennis?

No, Bobby Riggs did not have any significant coaching or mentoring roles in tennis after his retirement. His post-retirement activities were primarily focused on his personal pursuits, other sports involvement, business ventures, and media appearances.

Were there any controversies or notable incidents involving Bobby Riggs during his tennis career?

While Bobby Riggs was known for his flamboyant personality, there were no major controversies or notable incidents involving him during his tennis career. He was widely regarded as a talented and charismatic player who brought entertainment and excitement to the sport.

Did Bobby Riggs ever attempt a comeback to professional tennis after his retirement?

No, Bobby Riggs did not attempt a comeback to professional tennis after his retirement. While he remained connected to the tennis world through various activities and occasional appearances, he did not pursue a return to competitive play.

What was Bobby Riggs’ overall record and major tournament victories during his career?

Bobby Riggs had a successful career with numerous tournament victories and achievements. While specific records may vary, Riggs won three Grand Slam titles in singles—two Wimbledon championships (1939, 1947) and one US Open title (1939). He also claimed several other tournament victories throughout his career.

Did Bobby Riggs make any significant contributions outside of the sports world?

While Bobby Riggs was primarily recognized for his contributions to tennis, he did not have any notable contributions outside of the sports world. However, he engaged in charitable endeavors, using his platform to contribute positively to society.

How is Bobby Riggs remembered and celebrated in the tennis community today?

Bobby Riggs is remembered and celebrated in the tennis community as a skilled and charismatic player who made significant contributions to the sport. His legacy as a tennis icon, his involvement in the Battle of the Sexes match, and his impact on promoting gender equality continue to resonate with players, fans, and advocates for equality in sports.


Bobby Riggs will forever be remembered as a legendary figure in the world of tennis. His remarkable skills, charismatic personality, and contributions to the sport left an indelible mark on the tennis community and beyond.

The historic Battle of the Sexes match against Billie Jean King showcased Riggs’ determination to challenge gender stereotypes and sparked important conversations about equality and representation in sports. Riggs’ versatility extended beyond tennis, as he ventured into other sports, business ventures, and media appearances, demonstrating his entrepreneurial spirit.

Although he lived a relatively quiet life after retiring from professional tennis, Riggs remained connected to the sport through charity work and occasional commentary. His legacy continues to inspire generations of athletes and serves as a constant reminder of the enduring impact an athlete can have on society.

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Max Schnur

I am a professional tennis player on the ATP Tour. I am currently ranked at #29 in the world and have been playing for more than ten years. I started practicing tennis when I was five years old and quickly became obsessed with the sport. I started playing competitively at age 10, and after turning pro in 2004, I was able to compete on the ATP Tour for a decade. As an international athlete, my life has always been about travel and my love of traveling has led me to explore different cultures around the world. When not on tour, I can be found traveling around Europe or living it up in Las Vegas with friends from all over the globe! LinkedIn

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