The Sissie Game

Tom LeCompte

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Bobby (center) was the youngest of 7 kids.

Bobby's father, Gideon Riggs, Jr was a fundamentalist minister who moved with his wife Agnes from Tennessee to Southern California. He took a single, struggling congregation in a revival tent and grew it into a prominent church with dozens of congregations across the state.

Although his father lived most of his 84 years in Los Angeles, Gideon never really left his boyhood home of Tennessee. A farm boy at heart he belonged to a different time and place. Bobby, born and raised in Los Angeles, came to embrace all the city represented—the energy, the newness, the opportunity, the narcissism. The chance to create yourself.


Bobby was not tall, handsome, and glamorous. Short, cocky, disheveled, with a gait often compared to a duck's, he never cut the figure of a world-class athlete.

As one friend put it, "If you were in a restaurant and someone pointed over to Bobby and said, 'See him? He's the number one tennis player in the world,' you'd say, 'Sure. Have another drink.'"

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Tom LeCompte is a freelance writer based in Boston. He is the author of the acclaimed biography: The Last Sure Thing: The Life and Times of Bobby Riggs.

The Last Sure Thing: The Life and Times of Bobby Riggs.

Bobby Riggs was a gifted champion who dominated tennis in both the amateur and pro ranks, winning 3 Grand Slam singles titles, and 3 U.S. professional titles. He was a life long opponent of the tennis establishment, a hustler who had an obsessive gambling proclivity and a troubled family history. His playing accomplishments were overshadowed by the hype surrounding his stunning straight set loss to Billie Jean King in the 1973 Battle of the Sexes. Read the real story of one of the great personalities in tennis history.

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