NASCAR fever makes Billie Jean King forget big day

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JOLIET, Ill. – On the 43rd anniversary of one of the biggest days of her career, you’d think Billie Jean King would be out somewhere on a tennis court.

But King was so pumped up about being co-grand marshals with NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West for today’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup opener, that she completely forgot about what happened on this day in 1973.

“Today is the 43rd anniversary of playing Mr. (Bobby) Riggs back in the old days,” King said, referring to the celebrated “Battle of the Sexes,” when the 29-year-old King beat the 55-year-old Riggs in three sets in the Houston Astrodome.

“I had forgotten all about it,” said King, who has become a big NASCAR fan. “My publicist turned around and said ‘happy anniversary,’ and I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

King then paused to thank the media that covered her match with Riggs, as well as media members on hand for the NASCAR race.

“This is a fun day to be with all of you, because without you, that story (her match with Riggs) wouldn’t have been told,” King said.

After being away from playing the sport for several years, King recently picked up a racket for the first time.

“Oh my God, I was so bad,” she laughed, shaking her head.

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