Battle of the Sexes is entertaining and brings back a slice of history. Emma Stone transforms into Billie Jean King, age 29 – the number one female tennis player in 1973. She’s fiercely competitive, conflicted in her life, and takes on the tennis establishment by breaking off into a splinter group. Her Virginia Slims sponsored tour seeks better pay for women athletes. Billie Jean forged a path for women’s rights and is still respected today. In the film, she faces Jack Kramer, the smug director of the USTA, and says, “It’s when we want a little bit of what you’ve got. That’s what you can’t stand.”
Steve Carell plays the bumbling Bobby Riggs, age 55, who’s a gambler, a hustler, and is still trying to live off the glory of his past tennis career. He’s got a wealthy wife, but is bored. He issues a challenge that a woman can’t beat a man at tennis. What starts as a joke turns into a full court battle/show. He mugs for the camera, poses with scantily clad women, and is confident he can win. Billie Jean trains and ultimately takes this very seriously. It’s a bold statement for her to win this tennis match.
The movie packs a lot into its two hours. You get background, you get sport, you get the bombast, and the buildup. In 1973 it was a major television event. Spoiler alert – Billie Jean won in three sets. She truly was a trailblazer for women. Emma Stone glows with the energy and vibrant spirit of Billie Jean. She’s not just a girl, she’s a woman taking on a man, tennis, and a bit of the world. Battle of the Sexes is an energetic entertaining film. Game.. Set.. Match