Just about any sports fan today has at least heard of the famous tennis match between women’s champion Billie Jean King and the 55-year-old hustler and former champion Bobby Riggs. Few know about the build up to the match: the money, the sponsorships, the agreements and disagreements. That this match even happened is a miracle.
Bobby Riggs’s idea was that he could beat any woman player in the world. He wanted Billie Jean King, one of the best on the women’s circuit. She told him to go backhand himself. (note: I made that up. She SHOULD have said “Go backhand yourself”. Sorry.)
In Billie’s place went Margaret Court, a tough Australian, who was expected to give Bobby a good match.
He slaughtered her.
To avenge her gender, Billie Jean King threw herself into the proverbial arena—The Houston Astrodome, in this case. Riggs is a shameless self-promoter, trying to live just a little bit longer off of his glory days. King is a feminist, one of the reason women make huge amounts of money today. She and Chris Evert really started women’s tennis fandom back in the 1970’s.
The hype for the match was huge. We see Riggs (Ron Silver) schmoozing, trying to squeeze out more money here and there.; Silver disappears amazingly into Bobby Riggs. Then we see King (Holly Hunter) practicing till she wears out her practice partner.
A man, by the way.
I didn’t see that much physical resemblance between Hunter and King, but that doesn’t matter as much as Hunter capturing King’s feisty spirit, and showing some serious tennis chops. I know about editing and all, but I have no doubt Ms. Hunter could kick my ass in tennis. (For that matter, I have no doubt the editor could as well)
All in all, this is a cool little movie for a rainy day. I’ll leave you caveat:
Bet on the underdog.
Grade: B+ Available on Nextbook Streaming; wholesome, non-objectional family fun. (I was as surprised as y’all were. I need to go watch porn to balance out my brain 😉