The film will be set in the early 70s, when former male World Number 1 tennis played and self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) declared that the female game was inferior and that a top woman player couldn’t beat him even at the age of 55. He then challenged the already legendary female player Billie Jean King to a match, but she declined.
However Margaret Court, who was then the top female player in the world, took on the challenge, but lost to Bobby in straight sets, seemingly confirming Riggs’ claims. King wasn’t going to stand for that and agreed to play Bobby in what became a nationally televised media sensation. It was an important time in King’s life for another reason too, as for the first time she’d relatively recently become involved in a relationship with a woman, even though she was still married to a man at the time.
Shue is set to be Riggs’ wife. It’s not clear who Riseborough will be, but the best bet is either Margaret Court, or one of King’s first girlfriends. Simon Beaufoy wrote the script, with Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) set to direct.
Battle Of The Sexes is one of three films about the events doing the rounds, with HBO backing HBO backing Proof with Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, and Will Ferrell attached to Match Maker. Interest in the match was reignited by a 2013 documentary, also called The Battle Of The Sexes.