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Senior Citizen Kane Club: Battle of the Sexes

Valerie Faris, Jonathan Dayton

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Although the debate around equal status for professional female athletes is far from over, the progress made so far is largely due to those who took a courageous stand in the past. Written by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine), Battle of the Sexes follows the story of the infamous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and reminds us exactly how far we’ve come.

"...reminds us exactly how far we’ve come." 

When the head of the US Lawn Tennis Association Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) refuses to make the prize purses level for men’s and women’s games, an outraged Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) decides to start a rival league, ushering in a new era of women’s tennis. Despite huge success on the court, King faces struggles in her personal life, including a failing marriage and the secret of her sexuality. Her opponent, Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell), is decades past his last championship and out of the game. Facing dwindling finances and desperate to win back his ex-wife, he cooks up a publicity-snaring challenge: a woman v man $100,000 winner-takes-all match, which King eventually accepts. The rest is history.

Battle of the Sexes perfectly captures the period, from its great costume design right down to the blatant sexism which was accepted as part of everyday life. But it also, more importantly, shows us the great strides made by trailblazers like King and her fellow sportswomen, without shying away from the toll their actions took on them personally.

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