Riggs, who claimed he would set women's tennis back 20 years against Billie Jean, looked every bit his age after the match.
Actress Emma Stone made an appearance on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan on Thursday (Sept. 21), where she talked about her new movie Battle Of The Sexes and how she was very hesitant to take on the role of playing Billie Jean King. In 1970, she and eight other female players-dubbed the Original 9-formed the Virginia Slims Circuit as part of a protest against pay inequality between men and women players. And, Steve Carell is a worthy foil: a guy proud to call himself a male chauvinist and play to the prejudice so prevalent at the time. But I think the best moment for me in this whole process was watching the movie at Telluride with her and an audience, and it was the beginning of her completely embracing the movie, and it's just the greatest thing. Though enjoyable throughout, Battle of the Sexes never quite reconciles its often breezy tone with its main character's interest in social justice.
Bobby Riggs' next big spectacle may be a leap off the Suicide Bridge in Pasadena, Calif., while Billie Jean King is happy to have made a spectacle of the 55-year-old hustler and to have won $200,000 to boot. She also captures King's marvelous antelope saunter, the casual grace this superb athlete radiated when she wasn't running for the ball.
Reliably charming and charismatic, if quirky and clueless at times, Carell manages to build sympathy for Riggs even as the former tennis pro denigrates women, sabotages his marriage and takes advantage of his adult son.
While on tour, she meets a hairdresser named Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough) with whom she forms an immediate connection.
Meanwhile, after taking notice of the endless publicity for the Virginia Slims Tour, aging ex-mens tennis champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell), a amusing but flawed degenerate gambler and shameless self-promoter, decides it's time to capitalize on the moment. For those who weren't alive when the match took place almost 50 years ago, it's hard to understand the magnitude of the event, and just how significant King's victory was for women's equality, both inside and outside the sports world. And my lawyer and my PR person didn't want me to. She's so supportive, but I think it's also really emotional because it's so much of her.
"Battle of the Sexes. Fox Searchlight
Another famous tennis showdown was 40-year old Jimmy Connors vs. 35-year old Martina Navratilova on September 25, 1992 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The film also chronicles the other events unfolding in King's personal life that summer of 1973. "Times change", he says to King at a crucial moment. To complicate her position, Jack Kramer, head of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association (a commanding Bill Pullman) remained steadfast in his dedication to the supremacy of men and the inferiority of women, and refused to pay equal prize money for both sexes. Riggs was happily married, too (on the surface), to a handsome wife named Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue) who stood by him publicly but privately despised his deplorable conduct before the press and his insults to women. "What she was talking about, you know - everyone was white, the gloves were white, the balls were white, everything, and she realized that at the very beginning - but she also realized she was great at tennis and this was going to be an fantastic platform for her, if she could be the best, to change the world".
Beyond King's drive to secure equal opportunities for women, she became an icon for LGBT people. And so they keep coming back in slightly different forms. "Yet what was going on underneath was incredibly serious", says the movie's screenwriter, Simon Beaufoy.
"You start to realize that every generation has to start over - fighting for equality".
Battle of the Sexes hits theaters in Los Angeles and NY today and gets a wide release September 29.
And what has she learned about her own life after winning the Oscar? "And how white everything was except for Rosie." she says.