“No Scrubs” vs. “No Pigeons”: The Battle of the Sexes That Shook Radio in 1999
Monday 20 June — 7. Battle of the Sexes tells the story of the seminal gender battle tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It was a match made in heaven: she was the darling of American tennis, an outspoken activist against sexism in sport and society; he was the charismatic, fast talking, hustling chauvinist showman. Yet their unlikely 'courtship', in the midst of a social revolution, captured the imaginations of people around the world, empowered a generation, and changed sport forever.
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Billie Jean King reflects on 'Battle of the Sexes'
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But not for another 28 years did another grand slam tournament follow suit. This is to indicate the point of Battle of the Sexes, which — beyond being bubbly, crowd-pleasing entertainment which jollies along a treat — is to celebrate a battle being won but not a war. E mma Stone and Steve Carell are absolutely the right stars for the occasion.
K ing starts out as the number one female player of the moment, but the film shows her hitting a rocky patch, when Australian rival Margaret Court Jessica McNamee takes her on. Meanwhile, Riggs is all bluster and PT Barnum-ish stunts, donning ludicrous outfits to win rallies for show, or hitting back the ball with a frying pan. But watching him deflated and wheezing on the court — the comedy knocked out of him — is very much the necessary endgame. The music helps: they have an unflagging, high-energy score from Nicholas Britell Moonlight on side to grease the wheels, cheerleading King whenever its hopeful main theme pipes up.
King spoke to Riggs a day before his death in and talks of him as one of her heroes.
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