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Battle of the Sexes

Posted By Monica Nawrot

Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes follows the story of a 1973 tennis match featuring Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

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About Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes is broadly based on a 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). At the time King was considered the number one women’s tennis player in the world, and the face of the women’s revolution facing many injustices. Bobby Riggs on the other hand was a retired ex-world champion who was also well known for his gambling addiction and other personal demons. Seeing an opportunity to create another bet, Riggs claimed that even at age 55 he could beat King, simply because she was a female. Catching wind of his comments King, an outspoken feminist, agrees to the match to prove to Riggs and any other doubters that a woman can take on a male opponent, and win. 

Battle of the Sexes's Relation To Sport Business

Staying true to the title, Battle of the Sexes, focuses mainly on the gap between female and male athletes. First off it shows how marketing and big name matches attract a larger audience. Although King was already a well respected female player, their battle received more attention mostly likely due to Riggs’ antics and trash talk. In total 90 million people worldwide tuned into the match. King ultimately beat Riggs and won the prize of $100,000. This also solidified a win for the women’s movement as it made a step in the right direction. 

However Billie Jean King's struggle wasn’t unique as many female tennis players, and female athletes in general faced adversity. This resulted in a number of women’s tennis athletes coming together to start their own tournament after discovering their top prize is way lower than the men’s despite similar numbers in ticket sales. With King’s win in 1973 the Women’s Tennis Association was founded that same year and was created to build a better future for girl’s tennis.

Battle of the SexesSport Industry Areas Touched

Related Industry Trends

Battle of the Sexes Industry Endorsements

Battle of the Sexes has been suggested to us by sport industry professionals we talk to on a regular basis. See a list of those individuals below.

 Industry Professional  Organization  Position
Mylène Turcotte-Fitzgerald Water Polo Canada Communications & Marketing Manager
Dana Bookman Canadian Girls Baseball Founder and CEO
Claire M. Smith Duke University Assistant Director of Sports Marketing

Why watch Battle of the Sexes?

There are plenty of reasons to watch Battle of the Sexes. First off, there are many A-listers featured in the film. Stars like Emma Stone, Steve Carrell and Sarah Silvermen are just a few of these big name celebrities. Similarly they are all well known for their comedies, which is a major aspect of the film. However they are also able to take their comedic skills and intertwine them with the dramatic moments King and Riggs had, which makes the movie very entertaining and quite realistic. 

Another reason to watch this movie is because of how relevant some of the major themes are still to this day. For starters, back in 1973 gay marriage was legal in the United States and many LGBTQ issues were never discussed. King, who was formerly married to Larry King, was coming to terms with her sexuality once she started having an affair with her hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett. Although many strides have been taken towards equality there are still many lingering problems. 

Speaking of equality, many women, especially female athletes are still not always seen as equal to their male counterparts. The film starts off with multiple female players banding together to create their own tournament, after discovering their champion prize money is eight times less than what the men wins. Unfortunately this issue is still relevant today, with recent examples including the US women’s soccer team. 

Trailer & Extras

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