The tennis champs lifelong fight for equality and freedom is celebrated in a new cinema about the Battle of the Sexes. She talks about not being comfy in her own scalp until she was 51, and why millennials give her hope
In 1955, when she was 12 years old, Billie Jean King says she had an epiphany.” I was daydreaming about my little tiny universe of tennis, and I thought to myself:’ Everybody’s wearing white shoes, white socks, white clothes, playing with white balls, everybody who plays is white. Where is everybody else ?'” she recollects.” That was the moment I decided to fight for equality and freedom and equal rights and opportunities for everyone. Everyone. Not merely daughters. Everyone .”
Now, 62 years later, the most sensational moment of her long, boundary-smashing tennis career has been turned into a cinema. Directed by Little Miss Sunshine’s Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes tells of the run-up to that infamous high-stakes 1973 match between King( Emma Stone) and the showboating, self-confessed “male chauvinist pig” Bobby Riggs( Steve Carell ), in front of 30, 000 live spectators and a colossal Superbowl-sized TV audience. But those expecting a straightforward sports movie may be surprised by its intimacy, as it draws a parallel between the weight of having to prove the worth of all female athletes in that one match, and the distress of hiding a secret affair with her female hairdresser from both her husband Larry and the world.
When meeting King, it is obvious why she has been at the vanguard of so much change, having dedicated much of her life to the fight for equality. When the men’s tour refused to address women’s concerns over pay inequality, King violated away to be established a women’s tour, with each of the” Original Nine” players signing a symbolic$ 1 contract( it is a barnstorming moment in the film, although the timeline has been loosened somewhat to fit dramatic demands ). Shortly afterwards, she founded the Women’s Tennis Association. But when President Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised” all the off-the-court stuff- what she did to broaden the reach of video games, to change how women athletes and women everywhere view themselves, and to give everyone, regardless of gender or sex orientation- including my two daughters- a chance to compete both on the court and in life .”