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On September 20, 1973, millions of viewers tuned in to watch the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. But this wasn’t just any matchup. This was a battle that set the wheels in motion towards women’s liberation and social change. The incidents leading up to the match, as well as the aftermath, have been documented in the film, Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs.

On September 22, 2017, the film was released in select theaters before its official nationwide release on September 29th. If you’re looking for a sports film that touches on subjects that go much deeper than the world of tennis, here are 10 reasons to go watch Battle of the Sexes.

1. The Matchup Included Similar Rallies

Directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris tried to keep the film as accurate as possible – right down to the matchup’s rallies. They watched a 10-minute video of the real plays that Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs wanted to be included in the film. Emma Stone and Steve Carell then trained with an instructor to learn those similar plays and sequences.

battle of the sexes film

2. The Replica Clothing

The actual outfit King wore during the match is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. So the filmmakers decided to dress Stone in an exact replica of her apparel, right down to her blue-suede tennis shoes.

battle of sexes

3. It Was More Than Just a Tennis Match

Instead of just being a tennis match, the competition played a role in the women’s liberation movement. It also pushed for female athletes to become more validated in professional sports. Because of the highly-publicized game, King sped up the process to allow women athletes to make a career out of playing sports. She landed various major endorsements, including gigs with Adidas and Colgate – something that was almost unheard of for women athletes during that time.

battle of the sexes movie

4. Carell’s Portrayal of Riggs Is Spot On

While watching the film, you’ll probably be a little turned off by Carell’s portrayal of the loud, misogynistic, and boisterous Riggs. But the truth is, the actor’s portrayal of the tennis player is spot on. Before the real match, Riggs made numerous controversial statements, such as “The best way to handle women is to keep them pregnant and barefoot.” It was that chauvinistic statement, and other sexist comments made by Riggs, that convinced King to accept his invitation to go head-to-head in a matchup. It was time to teach Riggs a lesson, and King was the perfect woman to get the job done!

steve carell

5. It Promotes Equality

King’s story is all about equality. During her career, women weren’t getting the type of respect they deserved in the world of sports and in the world in general. The movie promotes respect and equal respect for all, with King at the forefront of the movement.

Anthony Correia - Shuttershock

6. King’s Story Will Empower You to Become Fearless

The biopic is an eye-opening look at how far we’ve come. 40 years later, women are still fighting against sexism and for equality. However, King has always been praised for confronting her fears in the face of critics and her male counterparts’ inappropriate comments and constant taunting.

billie jean king

7. It Sheds Light on How Little Things Have Changed

Although we’ve made strides in promoting and maintaining equality between the sexes, this movie shows that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Stone spoke on how disheartening it was to hear some of the male characters speak because it’s a similar rhetoric to words that have been said in recent times from people in the United States’ “branches of government.”


8. It’s About LBGT Rights

Battle of the Sexes is about an infamus tennis match, of course, but it also touches on King’s private life and the issues she faced. The tennis pro was married to Larry King (played by Austin Stowell), but she fell in love with a hairdress named Marilyn Barnett (played by Andrea Riseborough). As their relationship grew, King was forced to keep things underwraps for fear of backlash. When their relationship came to an end, Barnett sued King for palimony, and the tennis star quickly lost major endorsements simply due to her sexual preference. Instead of disappearing from the public eye after being outed, King devoted the rest of her life to being a gay rights advocate.

emma stone battle of the sexes

9. You Might Even Thank Riggs

While watching the film, there’s no doubt you’ll cringe at some of the comments made by Riggs. But many people have credited him for doing the most for women’s tennis. By calling out King, challenging her to a matchup and subsequently losing, he set the course for women to be taken seriously in sports. See, there’s always a silver lining in every situation!

billie king

10. Stone Embodies King’s Bravery

To get ready for the role, Stone immersed herelf into reserching everythig about King’s life. She said she felt it was her resposnsibliity to keep King’s ideas, bravery, and messages alive. When asked for the one thing King’s life taught her, Stone answered, “One of the great lessons that Billie Jean taught me is that you don’t have to be perfect to be brave.” No truer words were ever spoken.

emma stone

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