Tennis-King confident women's tennis is free of match-fixing

Reuters | By, London
Nov 21, 2007 04:49 PM IST

The 63-year-old King, who won 20 Wimbledon titles, felt players who even contemplate throwing a match should never have pursued a professional career.

Tennis great Billie Jean King said she would be surprised if women's tennis became embroiled in the match-fixing allegations that have overshadowed the men's game in 2007.

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Asked if she had heard of any women players who had been offered money to throw a match, the American said: "Absolutely not, not even one."

"Men make more money so maybe they (the match-fixers) go there first. People follow the money in sports. In the '60s nobody cared because there wasn't any money."

Tennis matches on the men's ATP tour have been under scrutiny since August when a clash in Poland between world number four Nikolay Davydenko and lowly-ranked Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello was voided by British online betting exchange Betfair because of unusual betting patterns.

Davydenko, who retired hurt from the contest, denies any wrongdoing.

However, a number of male professionals, including Wimbledon doubles champion Michael Llodra, have since said they were offered money to throw matches - with all of them saying they had rebuffed the offers.

Despite the rebuffs, the threat of possible match-fixing continues to haunt the sport.

"No one is ever immune. You can fix anything in sport if you want. You definitely could do it and that's why we have to have honour and integrity," said King after receiving a Sony Ericsson Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sportswomen of the Year Awards.

The 63-year-old King, who won 20 Wimbledon titles between singles and doubles during her illustrious career and is credited with changing the face of women's tennis, felt players who even contemplate throwing a match should never have pursued a professional career.

Asked if she would be surprised if a lowly-ranked player succumbed to the temptation, she added: "Absolutely, she shouldn't be in the sport, get out. If you're good enough, there will always be a way."

"What's important is to do the right thing even when it's not popular or when you're in a desperate situation."

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