Battle of the Sexes film review (with video)

Biopic of early 70s tennis matchup shines light on important issues today

Gracie Blackwell


Gracie Blackwell

Battle of the Sexes hits nationwide theaters on Sept. 29. The film follows the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).

Gracie Blackwell, Business Manager

DALLAS – In recent times, films have been touching on important, timeless issues. This is no exception for sports dramedy Battle of the Sexes.


Battle of the Sexes tells the real-life story of the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell).

The film centers around the issue of feminism in the early 1970s, especially in the world of tennis, a subject that is still relevant to today’s women’s rights issues, such as the recent news of Saudi Arabia allowing women to drive.


King and other female tennis players were in the midst of a time where they were not receiving equal pay as male tennis players.


The beginning moments set the scene for the issue that encompasses the entire movie: women’s rights.


King argues with tour promoter Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) about the higher pay for women at future tournaments. King refuses to be paid less than men, thus boycotting the tournament.


From the very start, Stone’s performance stands out. The effort and emotion she puts into playing King validates the Oscar buzz she has already been receiving for this film.


King and eight other female tennis players, known as the Original 9, go on to set up their own tournament, the Virginia Slims Circuit, at same time as the Pacific Southwest Tournament they originally were going to play at, which results in them being kicked out of the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association.


As the film shows the journey of the Circuit, it cuts to various scenes of ex-champ Bobby Riggs, who is a male chauvinist, and his life after his successful tennis days. Riggs’s incessant gambling addiction prompts him to challenge King (the World No. 1) to a tennis match, a battle of man vs. woman.


The second half of the film leads up to the big match and all of the training that goes into it. At times, the film does not seem to show the hype that actually went on during the time of the match in real life.


Although the real-life 1973 hype did not translate through the hype leading up to King vs. Riggs match in the movie, the match at the very end redeemed itself.


The level of directing from directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who previously worked on Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine, was well crafted. It almost feels like watching a real-life nail-biting tennis match.


King ultimately prevails over Riggs, showing that female tennis players can be just as good, if not better, than male tennis players. King set the stage for future female tennis players, and was a true feminist icon of that time.


Despite the film’s almost non-existent build-up of the match, it  informs and entertains a generation that never grew up watching the match. In addition, it allows generations that grew up watching the match to reminisce in it.


Battle of the Sexes will be released in theaters everywhere tomorrow. Click here for showtimes and tickets.


Rating: 4/5 stars

Run time: 2 hours 1 minute