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So, The Battle of the Sexes, the story of Billy Jean King’s struggle for women’s rights and equal pay in tennis, centered on the 1973 challenge match with pseudo male chauvinist player Bobby Riggs, still today the most viewed and attended tennis match in history. The world watched on as the sports greatest female player accepted the challenge of the 55-year-old loud mouth to a winner takes all five set challenge at the Houston Astrodome on live TV. Riggs was no mug with the racquet, winning four men’s singles slams just before the war, including the extremely rare Wimbledon Triple Crown, that of the Men’s, Men’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles in 1939. But there was no money in the game around wartime in amateur tennis and Riggs a real hustler, betting on himself in those tournaments, accruing $100,000 in winnings, a colossal amount today. It was unclear if he paid his opponents to lose and shared the winnings.
The argument over whether women should earn the same prize money as men in professional tennis has always been a physical one. Per game and set played men earn less than women but men have learned not to complain in this PC world. The girls play three sets and the boys play five, therefore there is technically a weaker sex here, right? In fact the girls did play five back in the day on the mixed tour but a female player feinted wearing a corset on court and so the male officials decided the girls should play three sets. I don’t think anyone would deny that male players are stronger than the female players and the girls would certainly not want to play on the men’s tour. No, the female players argument has always been that they generate as much money as the men from crowds, TV and commercial sponsors and so why cant they have the same money? Even today tennis is the only sport where women get equal prize money. If women players don’t make as much many as the men’s tour the guys end up subsidizing the girls at the grand slams and tournaments where both men and women play. The Women’s Tennis Association tour events have to pay equal prize money are then under pressure to make the money the guys events are making to meet those demands. Still today the most attractive player, regardless of ranking, makes more money than the plain ones above her in endowment. Petra Kitova won Wimbledon but just not cute enough to get a cosmetics or sports kit deal.
The documentary briefly goes over Kings early life with black and white footage and some vox pox as we get into the Riggs match fairly quickly as he lays down the challenge to the women so to prove that they are indeed the weaker sex. A lot of Riggs buffoonery was for show and he later claimed that his antic helped to boost female tennis, which they did as he lost to King, of course, proving the strength of women’s tennis. Riggs first challenged Women’s World Number one Margaret Court in the same year of 1973 for the Battle of the Sex’s match, Court a prolific champion of the time with 61 titles and three Wimbledon singles crowns, the same year King pulled the two women’s fledgling tours together in pursuit of equal pay. Riggs felt this was the best time to get publicity for his antics and Court surprisingly accepted the $5000 dollar challenge. King was not happy and felt the Aussie don’t realize the game was not simply about money but about women’s rights and tried to talk her out of what eventually would be a straight sets hammering by Riggs as Court bottled it. King had risked a lot to get a women’s tour up and running and felt there was not enough solidarity by some of the girls on the tour. The original nine that began the Virginia Slims Women’s tour joined up for just one dollar, playing in all manner of unsuitable venues and prize money to boost women’s sports and rights. But King a superb trailblazer for women and she knew how important the Riggs thing had become, tennis the method she chose to make women more equal. But deep down you can’t help feeling that King wanted women to be more masculine so to be bale to survive in a men’s world.
There was no doubt that a lot of female champion women players back then were rather masculine. Billy Jean King, herself, had been living a lie and actually married to a cute hunky blond guy, only coming out in the late 1970s, saying ‘she only realized she was gay until recently’. Martina Navratilova was also gay. King knew that would harm the early days of the woman’s tour, even today men saying most female champion tennis players are lesbians. Masculine women tend to have more male hormones and so naturally more physical. In fact some would say it was the likes of the sexy blonde American players like Chrissie Evett that really kick started women’s pro tennis as the sponsors poured into to pair their products with attractive people.
The Riggs V King match would be for $100,000, Riggs so confident that he bet % 15 on himself to win. He hyped the match up to be the biggest sports event of 1973. But he tired and the superior 30-year-old King overpowered the older man in the glasses. King knew it was stunt but a stunt that could not be ignored because of Courts involvement. But for all the rivalry between the two you could see it was a reciprocal thing and the two liked each other deep down. In fact Riggs phoned King the day before he died of cancer and she told Bobby:’I love you’.
It’s a fascinating film and as I was too young to remember these events it made it even more enthralling viewing. America and sport is all about entertainment and showbiz and this was that but there was no doubt the ladies were treated badly back then and sport somewhat sexist, making this film very worthwhile. Rod Lever was paid five times as much as King when they won grand slam titles in the same tournament. Today as many people watch the Wimbledon women’s final as the men’s final (not including Murray last year, of course) and they certainly make big bucks on the women’s tour, all because of King, an impressive lady. The women’s games is likely to rise even more as the new blood passport anti doping rules mean the days of muscled butch champions are gone and so even more chance for the pretty world number 35 to make a million bucks.
Recently, we had the Golden Globe Awards. Soon, we shall be bombarded with others including the Logie Awards, the Emmys and heaps of others. Of course, who could forget Elizabeth Taylor’s major goof-up? Did Liz have too much to drink beforehand, or was it just stage fright? Or even problems with concentration, due to previous illnesses? Those less kind could accuse her of being senile. The media made much of the incident, describing her behaviour as “bizarre.” Who knows? Then again, everyone makes a mistake. Tom Cruise did the same but his error wasn’t quite so obvious. The presenters read the nominees from the auto-cue, before they open that golden envelope. Sarah Jessica Parker later claims it was nerve-racking standing up on stage in front of everyone. However, these people are professional actors who should be able to handle the pressure. Sarah Jessica Parker’s routine, “Oh my gosh, I don’t believe I’ve won this award” was tedious, if not annoying. She did the same last year. She had one in five chances of winning. Had she won the lottery, it would be understandable. One would think she would prepare something, just in case. Or a simple “Thank You” should do. Why she won the award in the first place really puzzles me. I don’t think she is a very good actress. Nor is Sex In The City worth writing home about. I think it is one of the worst shows on TV. There are other shows more deserving of a Golden Globe award than this one. Some actors/actresses wrote notes so they remember to thank specific people, including the Hollywood Foreign Press. I was disappointed that the military drama series, JAG, wasn’t nominated as Best Drama on TV. Nor were any cast members nominated for Best Actor/Actress or Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. © 2001 Carolyn M Cash
Just look at how many people have written reviews of these compared to the Oscars and you can see what esteem they are held in.Off the top of my head I can't remeber any of the winners of this years golden globes whereas the Oscars are a differnt matter. It has struck me before though that the globes are less commercial than the Oscars and so are better in some ways.The main use of them though is as an indicator as to who may win the Oscars.Maybe they should change the time of year so that the Oscars are furthur away and don't overshadow them so much.Just a thought.