By Shilpa Gopinath Posted April 17, 2008, 5:33 PM EDT
Reminiscing over the story of Billie Jean King’s historic 1973 win over Bobby Riggs in the tennis match dubbed the Battle of the Sexes gets female athletes riled. And so the 35th anniversary of that historic match was a recurring topic for the Women’s Sports Foundation's third annual Billie awards on Tuesday night (named after King herself, the organization's founder) at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, a young event that stuck to its established pattern of tear-jerking speeches and topics, plus a performance by King's friend Elton John, in an earth-friendly environment.
Following that model, the Billies stuck to an organic menu and wines and printed its materials on recycled paper. Freelance event producer Katherine Caufield brought the sports theme to the event’s decor, with table arrangements that included rectangular wheatgrass centerpieces topped by yellow gerbera daisies over black-and-white tablecloths, suggestive of a playing field.
After a live auction raised over $200,000 (the event raised more than $1 million overall), presenters gave Billies to winners. “The purpose of the event is to recognize those individuals in the media who are bringing awareness and covering women in sports in a positive light,” said Jessica Blubaugh, senior events manager for the foundation.
Elton John concluded the program with an hourlong set, while guests danced to his music wherever they could find space—despite the lack of a formal dance floor.