Already the top women’s player (and a future hall of famer), King stepped into a perfect storm of hype in 1971 when she agreed to face a middle-aged ex-Wimbledon champ and unabashed “chauvinist pig” named Bobby Riggs in a televised exhibition at a packed Houston Astrodome. The huckster’s challenge became a de facto referendum on the Women’s movement and the very validity of women’s sport.
How King turned the tables on Riggs (and maybe saved women’s tennis) is the subject of Battle Of The Sexes. The movie, starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs, explores King’s efforts - and those of the other women who helped form the Women's Tennis Association - to achieve equal pay for male and female players. And it covers King’s off-court discovery of her sexual identity.
The 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs became the most watched televised sports event of all time. Trapped in the media glare, King and Riggs were on opposites sides of a binary argument, but off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. With her husband urging her to fight for equal pay, the private King was also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, while Riggs gambled his legacy and reputation in a bid to relive the glories of his past.
I spoke with stars Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman ( who plays Gladys Heldman, Billie Jeans personal PR mogul) directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton and the legendary Billie jean King herself in Los Angeles.
Battle of the Sexes serves up in theatres on September 22nd
CLICK BELOW to watch all of the interviews for "Battle of the Sexes."