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The Battle of the Sexes (2013)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 146 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 11 critic

A look at the events leading up to the 1973 tennis match between retired men's champ Bobby Riggs and the current women's Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King.

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Former tennis champ Bobby Riggs faces off against Billie Jean King in a highly-publicized exhibition match he calls 'The Battle of the Sexes'.

Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
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Bobby Riggs ...
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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. Written by Anonymous

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Instructive Documentary
2 February 2014 | by (London) – See all my reviews

BATTLE OF THE SEXES sketches in the background to what is still the most-watched tennis match of all time - the 1973 clash between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Staged at the Houston Astrodome, it was prompted by Riggs' boasts that he could beat any of the leading female tennis players of the time, and thereby prove that men were 'naturally' superior to women. The documentary includes extensive footage of Riggs' interviews before the match took place; his views on women now seem incongruously out of date. By contrast Billie Jean King maintained her dignity, by refusing to become involved in the verbal debates either before or after the match. James Erskine's film makes some inflated claims - that the match provided inspiration for the feminist movement of the early Seventies - but covers far stronger ground in its analysis of the revolution in women's tennis taking place at that time. We have to admire King and her fellow-players for setting up a rebel tennis tour, in opposition to the US Tennis Association, as they demanded equal pay with their male counterparts. Despite numerous setbacks, their initiative proved so successful that it led to the formation of the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) in 1973. King herself comes across as both dedicated yet relentless - for her, the Riggs match was not just about vanquishing a buffoon-like male, but rather an opportunity to prove the strength of women's tennis as a whole. On the other hand, we feel sorry for her fellow-tennis player Margaret Court, who was patently not ready for the publicity ballyhoo surrounding her clash with Riggs, and lost her match badly. BATTLE OF THE SEXES is certainly an historical document, but one can't help feeling that, while Riggs' views are not overtly expressed these days in the media, there are plenty of men who share his opinions, despite four decades of feminist reform.


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