Battle of the Sexes – Director, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton

Battle of the Sexes

This was my second film about events that occurred when I was much younger. This time the original male chauvinist vs feminist battle that captured imaginations back in 1973. Bobby Riggs was a retired tennis champion who saw a chance to make some money by setting up matches against women and cashing in on the proceeds. Women’s tennis was struggling to get attention and adequate pay days for champions like Billie-Jean King but it was slow to come and male dominance in sports, at least at the gate, was a real road block. Organizers believed that women were not as good as men and therefore could not attract any paying audience. King was out to change it all and set up a competitive women’s tennis association. Riggs played the chauvinist card saying that at 55 he could beat any woman tennis player including the champion King. There was going to be a huge payday at least from King’s perspective plus a chance to humiliate Riggs and put women’s tennis on the map. I won’t tell you the outcome because you can look it up if you don’t know but just to say, women have never looked back. I was again worried that this would not be a good movie but with Steve Carell and Emma Stone as the leads I decided to take a chance and… winner. This movie is superb and much deeper than being just about the match. It delved into the real state of male chauvinism (Riggs was more a clown and opportunist than a chauvinist) exhibited by the US national tennis association and America at large, the rise of feminism as a force in modern society and of course King’s own lesbianism and the prejudice about coming out or being outed at that time. The emotional conflicts around this and Rigg’s own personal battles are explored with drama, humour and great depth. An excellent film and worth seeing. Oh.. all right… King crushes him in straight sets.