Emma Stone Opens Up About Her Lifelong Struggle with Anxiety

Riggs was rolled in on a rickshaw pulled by barely-dressed women, while King entered on a feather-adorned raft carried by shirtless men. The publicity of the event, combined with the passage of Title IX law, anti-gender discrimination, is largely credited with an increase in women playing sports. Fifty-five year-old Riggs was pretty restless in retirement and chose to get himself back in the spotlight by slamming women's tennis.

"I've never played a real person before, and the idea of then playing Billie Jean King was just so far out of my conciousness", Emma explained.

Dayton said the events in the film unfold during a period significant activism and social change, citing the creation of feminist magazine Ms., the Equal Rights Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress in 1972 and Title IX, the 1972 federal law that bans discrimination based on sex in education. It would be broadcast live on ABC from the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. She took up tennis more actively after retirement and has racked up a long list of victories, including the women's 80 titles for singles and doubles at the recent USTA National Indoor Championships.

The film implies that Riggs' chauvinism is mostly an act to build hype for his exhibition matches against King and another female tennis star of the era, Margaret Court.

Professional players were hired to reproduce the shots in the match against Riggs, which was watched by more than 50 million on television. Riggs won 6-2, 6-1.

If Riggs did not beat Court, the second match against King would never have been arranged or have had the media attention that it did. "So she knew. I think if she really believed that's what he thought, there'd be a different interaction between the two". The match gave $500,000 to the victor in addition to appearance fees. Because he was such an overwhelming favorite to defeat King, he could bet money against himself, lose on objective and cash in.

Riggs claimed the match with King was a lark ("I do it for fun", the real Riggs told 60 Minutes at the time) but heavy gambling debts and a collapsing marriage (Elisabeth Shue plays his long-suffering wife) had him in dire need of a major score that might double as personal redemption. He depicts the triangle between Larry, Marilyn and Billie Jean with great sensitivity and an appreciation for the sacrifices both Larry and Marilyn are willing to make to advance Billie Jean's career and cause. She didn't pick up tennis until age 11 and became the first tennis player to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1972. In lesser hands, she could've come off like a cartoon villain. King organizes a boycott, which leads to the creation of the Virginia Slims women's tour, a plucky start-up that King's agent, Gladys Heldman (played charmingly by a silver-streaked Sarah Silverman, in a very Debi Mazar-esque role) tries to keep together with spit and duct tape like a protective house mom. And the stock clips it does use, like Howard Cosell calling the match, saying that if Billie Jean King "grew her hair and took off the glasses, she could have a future as a movie star" really give a flavor of the casual sexism of the era.

In 2009, King was the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Shaw's story - which he told Van Natta he kept secret for four decades out of fear of reprisals from the mob but has now made a decision to reveal to "set the record straight" - is titillating, implying that King's vaunted victory in 1973 wasn't on the level.

Battle of the Sexes retells an event in American history that's so weird, it doesn't quite seem true 40 years later. This didn't go over well with the women's tennis community. She must play his game, or she will be taken to have lost to him.

  • Salvatore Jensen