Johan Kriek Reviews “Battle of the Sexes” Film


By Johan Kriek

Just saw the premier opening at a movie theatre of the “Battle of the Sexes” . We were invited and my coaches came and it was fun!

Bobby Riggs the gambler and showman who was a terrific professional (probably more professional in gambling but he called it hustling) vs Billie Jean King the trailblazer and living icon in women’s tennis.

Vince Spadea was the tennis double for Riggs with one handed slice backhands and he did a great job. I have no idea who doubled as a player for Billie Jean but she was great too!

The storyline was great, the videography shooting it was very realistic for the colors of the time on tv (looks analog) vs the bright HD of today’s tv would not have worked. The extras were great especially seeing my pal Lornie Kuhle as the on court announcer and interviewer.

All in all a very good tennis movie with a very compelling story and the climb of women’s tennis to professionalism equal in prize money to the men we see today. I normally didn’t like tennis movies in the past because they were quite bad and one could easily see the bad strokes etc but this one was very realistic for the times. I learned some new things I didn’t know before and I wonder if others know more than I from that era who may say “well that scene was a bit “Hollywoodish”. I recommend go see it!

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  • Scoop Malinowski · October 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    I find it very interesting that King contractually agreed to and then renegged on the rematch with Riggs and the possible third match. All the money on the line, the TV ratings, the box office, yet King ducked the rematch. Maybe she knew Riggs threw the match and that he was really going to try in the rematch and she didn’t want to take the loss??? Ducking the promised rematch stinks of suspicions.

  • Thomas Tung · October 2, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Scoop, Shanghai is the outlier (as it is in so many things in China). Here’s why:

    1) Matriarchy. Yes, that’s right — there’s a reason why the joke in China is that the US and Europe are several millenniums behind the Shanghainese in terms of “women’s rights”; in Shanghai, the women are in charge, and the men are the lackeys. Yes, lackeys, in the most direct meaning of the word possible. I have personally witnessed this many times; in business environments, and in personal environments. Coinciding with this is the joke that in China, the best husbands are Shanghainese (because they will treat the wife as queens and princesses of whom they are not worthy to have), and the worst wives are Shanghainese (because they will browbeat and physically abuse the husband, and the husband is expected to take it with a “cheerily subservient” attitude; as in memsahib).

    2) Western influence: Shanghai was a major port for Western expats to live in before World War 2, and it shows with places like the Bund. As a result of that heavy cultural influence, Shanghainese pride themselves as more “worldly and sophisticated” (in Western terms) than the rustics that live in Beijing, or the semi-barbarians that live in the backwardness that is other parts of China (their thinking, not mine). They will give some grudging respect for folks from Hong Kong (which, before World War 2, was a major, and more established, commercial/cultural rival).

    In short? Shanghainese pride themselves as steering away from the “ignorant herd mentality” that they feel average Chinese have, and for higher-end (middle and upper class Western, thus sophisticated and classy) sports like golf or tennis, it’s much more of a big deal in Shanghai than practically anywhere else in China. The Shanghainese openly revel in their stereotype as the “New Yorkers” of China.

    We may talk about “trophy wives” here in the West, but in Shanghai, they talk about “trophy husbands”.

    No surprises, then, about the relative popularity of tennis in Shanghai, compared to the rest of China (which is, by and large, basketball-mad — and this includes most, but not all, of the young Shanghainese boys and men). Critically, there are plenty of avid young Shanghainese female tennis fans …

  • catherine · October 2, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Scoop – I’ve never believed the stuff about BJ and the rematch. I don’t think she was interested in going through it all again. The whole match and the hoo ha etc took a lot out of her, mentally and physically. Once was enough.
    Riggs didn’t throw the match. He was beaten fair and square. He just wanted to drag the thing out and Billie Jean wasn’t having it. She was under a lot of pressure , from many directions, although we didn’t know all of it then.

    Thomas – interesting info about Shanghai which fits the kind of reputation Shanghai has had as part of European mercantile history and expansion in China. Experiences of Europeans in Shanghai before WW2 features in novels etc and many families had connections there. Shanghai’s always thought of as very cosmopolitan and ‘Western’ compared to most of China, excepting Hong Kong which was a British colony of course.

  • Hartt · October 2, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    Catherine, I know the women banding together took place before the Riggs match, but from previews of the movie it looks like they do cover it in the film.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 2, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Thomas, sounds all about right in relation to the Shanghai girlfriend I had :) To the tee. I think I’d prefer a gf from Beijing ;) Shanghai is a beautiful city, one of my favorites in the whole world. Thanks for the lecture on Shanghai and China :)

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 2, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Catherine, I’ve heard it and read it so many different times, King dodged the pre-arranged rematch. I was also told a few years ago by one of the individuals involved in the whole circus and who has a role in the film that Riggs tanked it. He didn’t say it exactly but he implied it heavily during a phone conversation a few years ago. He was apparently trying to give me a story but I just wasn’t interested in it back then. Now it’s a hot story. But now with all the media scrutiny on the match I doubt he will be as loose lipped as he was on the phone a few years ago. King should have done the gentlemanly thing and give the rematch, that’s what true champions do. Especially if they contractually and verbally promise it. That’s an aspect of this whole drama that I find disturbing and annoying – and swept under the rug.

  • catherine · October 2, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Scoop – I suppose we’ll never agree on this. If Riggs had tanked that match then I and a lot of other people would have heard about it then, believe me. And in the years afterwards. And there was no contract for a rematch, at least no written contract or the lawyers would have been on to it. Can you imagine them just sitting around in a situation like that ?
    Why should she have given a rematch ? You don’t have a rematch of the Wimbledon final. Or any other final. I know it’s a common situation in boxing, but boxing’s different.
    BJ played, she won, she proved her point and that’s it.

  • jg · October 2, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I watched a set of Connors v. Navratilova on you tube where Connors played the doubles alleys, the first set was really high quality tennis by both with Connors winning 7 5, both seemed to be going all out, and I never appreciated how good Navratilova was. She was serving and volleying with success against Connors. This was the era just before ” power tennis”.

  • catherine · October 3, 2017 at 2:13 am

    jg –
    I remember watching that match too when it was played. No one gave Martina a chance of getting a game but she did get a few :)
    Connors wanted a rematch but Martina had the sense to decline and the whole male/female thing faded away.

    I wish someone would come along in the women’s game and show everyone else that you can serve/volley in the so-called ‘power game’. You just do it better, ie faster and stronger.

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