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Battle of the Sexes

by Audrey Hunker

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, in 1973, went head-to-head in a tennis match dubbed the “Battle of the Sexes.” The symbol of feminism versus the male chauvinistic pig; it was watched by 90 million people around the world and it changed the sport of tennis for women forever.

Now, you can relive this moment in history and the events leading up to it by watching the new biographical sports film, “Battle of the Sexes.” Directed by Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Faris, the film attempts to recreate the circumstances leading up to the main event and the titular match. A moving combination of drama, humor, and action, the film successfully merges feminism, LGBT themes, and tennis.

Starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs, the exploration of King and Riggs’ personal lives results in two well-rounded characters, necessary in producing a reflection of real life tennis legends. Stone and Carell not only embody the physicality of the athletes, but their ideals and personalities.

One of the most notable aspects of the film was the recreation of famous tennis matches. After watching the film, I went home and looked up clips from the actual “Battle of the Sexes.” The amount of research Dayton and Faris had to conduct in order to be historically accurate is impressive.

While the tennis was impressive and the performances noteworthy, it is the message the film has to the offer that stayed with me. In a poignant scene, King points out that Riggs’ misogynistic comments are part of a façade, but to many other men in the industry, those comments are taken seriously. King decided to stand up for all women in tennis, fighting for equal pay and equal recognition in a sport dominated by men.

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