HBOWatch Editors were not able to line-up a writer to review THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to draw your attention to it. I guess I’m the only one around here old enough to remember the players at the heart of this true story from 1973. There are only two main players here, the driven Billie Jean King and the agitator Bobby Riggs, but what they stood for and what the ramifications of their actions did speak volumes and all of America was tuned in.
HBO description words it this way – with the future of women’s tennis on the line, Billie Jean King faced the ultimate challenge on the court–and made it “game, set, match” in her battle against a male-dominated sport. Emma Stone and Steve Carell are all aces in this funny, fascinating depiction of King’s infamous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” match against chauvinistic former men’s star Bobby Riggs.
Production company Fox Searchlight, however, gives us better details: In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and ex-men’s champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue). Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court.
So now that you’ve been schooled on King/Riggs the best thing to do, if it seems of interest, is to get to HBO and watch the movie. It appears that it won’t be a flat out history lesson as fun and energetic as the real event. King was taking it all seriously, but Riggs was full of antics. The media and America latched onto it and it was unique. I hope the movie captures it all. It was sporting event like no other and the movie should be too.
It debuted Saturday, July 14 at 8:00pm and plays across the HBO platforms.