Many baby boomers remember the 1973 exhibition tennis match also known as the battle of sexes when Women’s tennis champion Billie Jean-King defeated male chauvinist Bobby Riggs.
When Yvonne Hobart walked onto the European pickle-ball court, in Helsinki Finland for the championship to the applause of cheering fans, it was all 512 residents from Hallam, her little Village located in the Newark and Sherwood districts of Nottinghamshire, England.
She was the long shot underdog when the tournament began, but she was not intimidated by any her opponents or their fans.
Over the past four days, she has conquered two milestones, the first woman to appear in the finals and the first sports celebrity from her village. Everyone took notice when she defeated the four-time reigning European champion German, Diedrich Jorge
Her Championship final opponent for today’s match is the six-time Romanian champion Jaeger Basilisk nicknamed the speed devil. He has been critical of Yvonne play and commented negatively about her small village, stating as a woman she had no chance to win and expects the match will end within an hour with her fans walking like a dog with its tail between its legs.
Tension mounted as many in attendance knew the significance of the world championship tournament’s first female finalist.
When play began, Yvonne stood spinning her paddle in her left hand, with a stoic facial expression projecting a slight bit of intimidation until she broke a smile, flashing her pearly white teeth breaking the tension for all.
With her smile, her fans erupted with cheers, forcing Basilisk’s fans to respond likewise and then he grinned with a smirk of condemnation.
The mounting tension broke when Yvonne served, and the paddle made the signature plucking sound sending the ball across the net with speed and accuracy immediately revealing what was to be expected in a championship pickleball tournament.
Basilisk quickly returns the ball, and their body movements were furious matching their paddles which were blisteringly fast and intense with fifteen to twenty volleys per-set.
An hour and a half later, Yvonne, wore down the Basilisk to become the first female World Pickle-ball champion in the 65 and over mixed singles grouping.
Yvonne’s husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and fans triumphantly rush the court to cheer and celebrate their new hero with bottles of ensure.
The former champion Jaeger Basilisk walked over shook Yvonne’s hand then marched from the court in disgust, with his fans in tow.
At 5’1″, Yvonne stood stoically next to her winning gold and bronze five-foot trophy surrounded by family and adorning fans. During her acceptance speech, she stated the event was a revelation that at any age, against all the odds, anyone can be triumphant!