The Battle of the Sexes. It was a match made in heaven: she was the darling of American tennis, an outspoken activist against sexism in sport and society; he was the charismatic, fast talking, hustling chauvinist showman. Yet their unlikely ‘courtship’, in the midst of a social revolution, captured the imaginations of people around the world, empowered a generation, and changed sport forever.

September 20th 1973: The Houston Astrodome is in ferment; the months of hype are over and ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ is about to be served up. Over 30,000 screaming fans are here to see the most important, bizarre and downright fascinating tennis match of the century: one man versus one woman, best of five sets, a winner takes all prize of $100,000, and a global audience of 50 million. Tennis had never been so ‘ace’!

As an 80-­-piece brass band triumphantly strike up with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, from within the bowls of the stadium emerges the diminutive man behind this giant sporting circus – Robert Larimore Riggs. The 55 year old former Number One player (who’d won the fame Triple Crown at Wimbledon of singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles in 1939), hustler, and supposed male chauvinist, riding a rickshaw pulled by five scantily-­-clad glamour models he’d nicknamed his ‘bosom buddies’.

After years of cajoling and wooing, the brash, motor-­-mouthed Riggs has finally met his match; this was the match up he’d yearned after for so long; he was about to play Billie Jean King; reigning Wimbledon champion, winner of ten Majors, and all-­-American heroine. King was not only the queen of the court, but the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, the game’s standard bearer for equal rights, and the political poster girl for the Women’s Liberation movement.

The carnival crowd, including Heavyweight Champion George Foreman, actors Rod Steiger and Jo Ann Pflug, go wild as she appears, dainty, bespectacled, just 29, at the peak of her career, carried aloft on a golden divan by four bare-­-chested men, about to play the most important match of her life…

Combining scintillating match footage with contemporary news reports, stylised dramatic reconstructions, and interviews with key contributors, journalists, and fans, The Battle of the Sexes is a thrilling drama set against the backdrop of 1970s America. A country embroiled in the midst of the Watergate Scandal, the end of the Vietnam War, and undergoing a huge social revolution as women struggled to break free from the traditional gender stereotypes of housewives and mothers, to earn the same employment, pay, and education rights as men.

With the King v Riggs match as a gripping centerpiece, The Battle of the Sexes tells the interrelated stories of the birth of women’s professional tennis and the growth of the Women’s Liberation movement. Like a quirky romantic comedy, at its heart will be the blossoming friendship of King and Riggs; two polar opposites, with entirely different agendas, who came together to catapult themselves, and tennis, onto America and the world’s centre court, and change sport forever! A sparkling contemporary soundtrack featuring hits from Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, Diana Ross And The Supremes and Helen Reddy bring the decadent ‘70s to life.

From Victoria Gregory, the co-producer of Man on Wire and line producer of Senna, and James Erskine, the director of One Night in Turin and From the Ashes, The Battle of the Sexes will be released in cinemas across the UK by Kaleidoscope Entertainment.



June 26, 2013


James Erskine


Kaleidoscope Entertainment






83 minutes