The Triple Crown and
the Triple Bet

Tom LeCompte

Printable Version

What was Bobby Riggs' real bet on himself at Wimbledon in 1939?

Before the start of Wimbledon in 1939—his first and only appearance there--Bobby Riggs walked into one of London's legal bookmaking parlors. An American magazine writer several years later wrote, "This particular bookmaker was confronted a day before.the tournament began by a customer with an outrageous notion in his head."

As excerpted here from the June 1950 issue of Sport magazine, the exchange went like this: "In America," he said, "we like to make parlay bets. You know, if you win on the first one, all the money goes on the second one, and if you win on the second one, the whole pile rides on the third one-and so on. You know what I mean? Ever hear of it?"

The Englishman nodded his head gravely. "Well, I want to get down a parlay on this tennis tournament. We've got some pretty good American players in it, you know." "So I have heard," agreed the proprietor. "Of course, Wimbledon is a world championship tournament."

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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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