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When Billie Beat Bobby (2001)

TV Movie  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Sport  -  16 April 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 426 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 4 critic

The historic 1973 tennis match between middle-aged champion Bobby Riggs and young feminist Billie Jean King.



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Title: When Billie Beat Bobby (TV Movie 2001)

When Billie Beat Bobby (TV Movie 2001) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jerry Perenchio
Margaret Court
Rosie Casals
Lornie Kuhle
Ted Tinling
Debbie the hairdresser
Sidney Schlenker
Patrick Kerr ...


The historic 1973 tennis match between middle-aged champion Bobby Riggs and young feminist Billie Jean King.

Add Full Plot | Add Synopsis


It's not just the size of your racquet. It's The Way You Swing it.


Comedy | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language and thematic elements





Release Date:

16 April 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Battle of the Sexes  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The customized "Astrobus" that Bobby Riggs was chauffeured in was a 1979 or 1980 Dodge Van, which was manufactured over six years after the King-Riggs tournament in the Houston Astrodome. See more »


Bobby Riggs: I'm like a tiger gettin' ready to spring!
See more »

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User Reviews

When Disney aped John Waters
17 April 2001 | by (PDX) – See all my reviews

One of the worst sports films in a long time, When Billy Beat Bobby is a mutant of a movie. Unevenly waffling between drama and comedy, fact and farce, it takes a fairly normal subject--a famous tennis match--and makes a weird mini-spectacle of it.

Completely miscast, Holly Hunter doesn't quite fit into Billy Jean King's tennis shoes, she looks too strange and unnatural--as if she should have been in Hannibal instead (The muscular character Margot Verger was omitted from the horror flick for fear of offending certain women). Ron Silver broadly overacts as Bobby Riggs, has too close a resemblance to Austin Powers, and sounds too much like Sylvester the Cat. Fred Willard as a TV sportscaster helps only to skew the film into Fernwood 2-Night territory, and every other person is reduced to a sexist/racist/handicapped/ethnic caricature.

The story and style is clumsy and unsteady. Is it trying to be Rocky, the Karate Kid, or When Harry Met Sally? When Billie Beat Bobby does not know what it wants to be. The 1970's setting seems to come out of an old Mad magazine, and everyone looks and acts grotesque as if they were directed by David Lynch, or John Waters-lite. The fake-Stanley Kubrick technique breaks into bits of sports-film cliche, bits of nostalgic kitsch, bits of comic exaggeration, and other odd bits that don't move, fit or jive. It has about as much respect tennis-players as a black-face minstrel show has for African-Americans.

What it all ends up in is When Myra Breckinridge Beat the Nutty Professor with an American Graffiti/Animal House epilogue tacked on. It even cheats the viewer out of any beleivable tennis action--most of the shots are of closeups and fans in the bleachers. When Billie is best forgotten, it may be remembered for being what Dan Aykroyd on SNL used to call "Bad Performance Theatre!" At least it was broadcast on ABC TV, so you got your money's worth of curiously awful cinema.

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