Tennis Identity

Emma Stone And Steve Carrell To Star In “The Battle Of The Sexes” Movie

A bit of history first: The 1960s and 1970s were prime time for social change. “Traditional” societal norms were being challenged throughout contemporary culture (see Women’s Lib) and this extended to the tennis court, too. In the decade of the 1970s, “Battles” were a popular TV entertainment format.  Check YouTube for example for “Battle of the Network Stars.” And so it happened that in 1973, former tennis pro Bobby Riggs would play Billie Jean King in what would be dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” a made-for-tv event at the Houston Astrodome.

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

This ended up not merely being a exhibition for some big bucks. This was a cultural thing, and its impact would resonate far beyond the court for decades to come. We all know about BJK’s resume, and Riggs was no slouch! According to Wikipedia, “he was the World No. 1 or the World co-No. 1 player for three years, first as an amateur in 1939, then as a professional in 1946 and 1947.” So back in the day, he had game. He also had a keen eye for opportunity. After quitting the men’s pro ranks, he was a renowned tennis hustler and promoter of the highest caliber. He knew what he said would get a reaction, and he played the media like a violin:

I am not saying that women don’t belong on the court. Who would pick up the balls otherwise? -Bobby Riggs

Oh, my God. -Billie Jean King

There were three Battle of the Sexes matches. First, Riggs beat Margaret Court, then it was Billie Jean’s turn: September 20th, 1973. King was carried onto the court while seated on a throne, and Riggs wore a jacket that read “Sugar Daddy,” after the candy sucker (see below inset pic by Karin). She would go on to defeat Riggs 4, 3, and 3 in one of the most watched sporting events ever- 90 million global viewers. (Connors would play Navratilova some years later.)

Bobby Riggs jacket

And so we come to 2017 and the event has been made into a new movie starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs. It will open in the US September 22 and in the UK October 20.

It will be a good fall for tennis movies- don’t forget Borg/McEnroe. Game on.

Call Bobby, tell him it’s on. -Billie Jean King

I won the triple at Wimbledon. I could beat Billie Jean King. Does she have the nerve? -Bobby Riggs

Battle Of The Sexes

Bobby’s a clown. This whole thing is an act for him. -Billie Jean King

Battle Of The Sexes

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to put the show back into chauvinist. -Bobby Riggs.

Battle Of The Sexes

* Quotes via

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