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When Billie Beat Bobby Reviews

Reviewed By: Perry Seibert

The tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs resonated deeply in a country on the crest of a vast feminist movement. When Billie Beat Bobby director Jane Anderson illustrates the state of feminism in the country by equating it to women's tennis in the early '70s. The women players, dismissed because they are too beautiful (Chris Everett) and demure (Margaret Court), or too aggressive (King and Rosie Casals), are attempting to get the same pay for major tournaments as their male counterparts (a controversy that still raged in the tennis world when this movie first aired in 2001). Anderson establishes the parallels between the tennis world and the real world with great economy and skill. Holly Hunter captures the focused intensity and quick wit which made King both a world champion player, and a superb broadcaster. Ron Silver embodies Riggs' showmanship as well as his pathetic need for the spotlight. Silver could have easily made Riggs a fool, but instead he is a complex, engaging figure. The climactic tennis match works because Anderson and the actors have done such a fine job making the audience understand what this match means to Billie and Bobby as individuals, as well as what it means to the women and men of the country.