Thirty years after beating Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, Billie Jean King is lamenting the state of women’s sports in America, believing men remain the central focus.

Billie Jean King

“The fact is, the sports pages are still all about men,” writes King in an opinion piece in today’s Los Angeles Times. “It seems like 7.8 percent of sports media is about women, 8 percent is about dogs and horses – and the rest is about men. We don’t get the attention the men get and we don’t get the attention we deserve.”

King, who holds a record 20 Wimbledon titles, wrote the piece to complain about the reaction of some to Annika Sorenstam’s bid to be the first woman to play golf against men on the PGA Tour.

People are more sophisticated than they were in the 1970s. Women athletes are taken seriously. But women’s sports still have a long way to go. Men aren’t used to sharing the sandbox – or in this case, the sand traps – with women. …

Because nothing is worse than what golfer Vijay Singh said – that Sorenstam has no business playing in the Colonial and that he hoped “she misses the cut.”

The fact is, it is not easy for women to play against men, because most games are organized around the notion of strength. If sports weren’t based just on brawn I think we could compete. If golf courses were set up to be a lot shorter, if the first drive off the tee didn’t have such an emphasis on strength, it would be easier. But we didn’t create these games. They’re not set up for us.

But Sorenstam is great. She took the challenge. She has dared to compete.

King, now almost 60, works these days with World TeamTennis, which she co-founded as an innovative coed tennis league to help show kids that men and women can play together, cooperatively.

“That’s my dream,” she writes, “that girls and boys can see men and women cooperating on the court, working together to win.”

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