VIDEO: Battle of the Sexes Sheds a Light on Billie Jean King’s Dual Challenges

| October 18, 2017

In theaters now, “Battle of the Sexes,” sheds a light on what it must have meant to the 12-time singles Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King to deal with the challenges of the closet as well as the tennis court. The film also does not shy away from the private struggles that faced Bobby Riggs at that time.

The film is directed by husband-and-wife team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Feris—a collaboration of the sexes—best known for their 2006 Best Picture nominee Little Miss Sunshine, which also featured an empathetic Steve Carell, then as a quietly despairing gay academic, now cast in the role of Bobby Riggs as an affable, though flawed, showboating tennis veteran missing the spotlight. Emma Stone is pitch-perfect in her no-nonsense, thoughtful portrayal of King, who in 1973 took on the task of facing former pro Riggs in a highly publicized clash at the Houston Astrodome, billed as the “Battle of the Sexes” amid a roiling backdrop of growing feminist consciousness and reactionary pushback.

Read OUT Magazine’s conversation with tennis icon Billie Jean King and the movie’s co-stars Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough regarding the legendary 1973 match.

“One of the most important sporting events of the 20th century took place at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, on September 20, 1973. It starred the then-closeted tennis great Billie Jean King in a match with Bobby Riggs, a retired player some 26 years her senior who was adamant he could beat any woman who stepped onto the court. “Women belong in the bedroom and kitchen, in that order,” he once claimed, encapsulating the rampant misogyny of the era. (He was also a showman, and today King talks of him fondly as one of her heroes.)”



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