As audiences prepare for the release of Battle Of The Sexes, new photos from the forthcoming film depict feminist icon Billie Jean King's most triumphant life moments. The movie, which is slated to hit theaters on Sept. 22, details the events surrounding the 1973 Battle Of The Sexes tennis match between King and and self-proclaimed male chauvinist Bobby Riggs. During that time, Riggs, a Wimbledon champion, told Time, "Billie Jean King is one of the all time tennis greats... but she doesn't stand a chance against me. Women's tennis is so far beneath men's tennis." And after a bit of hesitation, King would finally agree to play against Riggs in a televised match, winning in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over the then 55-year-old champion.
And these photographs from the soon-to-be released project highlight many integral moments that will be explored throughout the film. Most notably, the chronicling of King (then married to tennis player, Larry King) as she privately comes to terms with her sexuality while publicly fighting for women's equality in the sports world. The photos offer an exclusive sneak peek into the film's exploration of both King's professional and personal struggles as she prepares to embark on one of the biggest, and perhaps most important, matches of her life.
The comedically-inclined Steve Carrell plays opposite Stone as Bobby Riggs in the dramedy, as these two characters square off against one another at the Houston Astrodome (with an estimated 90 million television spectators tuning in. As Indiewire states, the match is very much considered to be a "watershed moment for women’s athletics."
However, the battle on the court isn't the only issue these two tennis icons were facing at the time. King was struggling with her sexual identity and Riggs allegedly had gambling issues. The pair proved to have just as much drama off court in their personal lives as they had facing one another on the court.
As the big day arrived on Sept 20, 1973, the intensity of the match was highlighted when King arrived by way of a bevy shirtless men and Riggs showed up on a wagon towed by scantily-clad women. But the shenanigans didn't stop there: Riggs gifted King with a lollipop, and she gave him a piglet in return.
And as everyone now knows, King ultimately took home the prize in the winner takes all battle, earning $100K – and most importantly, the pride of her fellow women and all of her supporters around the globe.
As King pulled out the win, many realized that the battle was about much more than a battle between the two players. The victory helped to command the world's respect for women within the sports industry — and many other industries — as a whole.
A hero to many in the sports world and beyond, Billy Jean King's story is a long awaited tale that her fans have been eager to see come to the big screen. Some 44 years later, many continue to fight tirelessly for equal rights for all, making King's story and the tale of the Battle Of The Sexes match just as important today as it was over four decades ago.