‘Battle of the Sexes’ is about a tennis match — but it feels a lot like the 2016 election

The story picks up with a pay gap dispute — sound familiar? — between King (Emma Stone) and tennis champ-turned-bigwig Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman), who argues that the men’s prize money for an upcoming tournament should be eight times more than the female winner’s take.

“The men are simply more exciting to watch,” he says, breezily. “It’s not your fault; it’s just biology.”

..  “A lot of the country shared those attitudes about women, and Bobby was just kind of mocking that, or using it and exploiting it.”

This disparity was systemic: King’s battle wasn’t just against one sexist troll fueling a controversy. Her solution was to start a new women’s tour — the Virginia Slims Circuit — much to Kramer’s frustration.

.. “Sloane Stephens wouldn’t be getting a check for $3.7 million for winning the U.S. Open. If it was up to Jack Kramer, she would have probably been getting a check for $50,000, and she would have been happy.”

.. King takes her training seriously. Riggs, meanwhile, does a nude photo shoot and practices while dressed as Little Bo Peep, bringing real sheep onto the court. He knows that the more outrageous he is, the more the press will pay attention. His rhetoric makes for perfect sound bites: He loves women — in the kitchen and the bedroom, he says. And — okay, fine — they have a place on the tennis court, too, because, “who else will pick up the balls?”

Through it all, the stakes seem much higher for her than for him. She’s trying to make history and challenge an unfair system. He’s just looking for attention.

..  but ultimately Bobby did pay a price — as Trump may later. Maybe his brand will be worthless.”

.. After King beat Riggs, no woman would play him; an earlier offer to play Chris Evert for $1 million disappeared — and then, so did he.

..  Howard Cosell’s dated commentary during the game, which appears in the film from real, archival footage.

“Here comes Billie Jean King — a very attractive young lady,” Cosell said. “If she ever let her hair grow down to her shoulders and took her glasses off, you’d have someone vying for a Hollywood screen test.”

The famous announcer spent much of the match with his arm wrapped around Casals (played by Natalie Morales), who was giving the female counterpoint. Casals remembers how uncomfortable it was standing there while Cosell’s heavy arm rested on her shoulder, not to mention the way he literally talked down to her.

.. “We felt it was really important to put the real Howard Cosell in and use exactly what he said, because you almost wouldn’t believe it otherwise. At the time, he was a relatively progressive guy. It’s just a sign of where we were.”

.. the reaction to the test screening for the movie before the election was very different from the one after.they were still struck by how much more positive the feedback was after Trump was elected.

Wonder Year: Roger Federer

Not only is Federer not acting his tennis age; observers as astute as Rod Laver, the all-time great from Australia, Mats Wilander, the eight-time Grand Slam winner from Sweden, and Brad Gilbert, the coach, commentator and former pro, believe Federer is playing the best tennis of his life. When the U.S. Open begins next week, he will be favored, despite tweaking his back and losing in the final of a warm-up tournament in Montreal, to win his third major of the year, something he last accomplished at 26. Consider: Andre Agassi won his final major at 32, Laver and Pete Sampras won their final majors at 31 and John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg won theirs at 25. When Federer triumphed at Wimbledon in July, he became the event’s oldest champion in the Open Era (which began in 1968),

.. But after his victory over Andy Murray in the Australian Open final in 2010, his dominance in the slams skidded to a halt. Between the ages of 29 and 35, he won only a single major, beating Murray again at Wimbledon in 2012, in what were ideal conditions for his game after the roof was closed in the third set. Although he continued to reach the occasional final and semifinal, all signs indicated that he was gradually and inevitably succumbing to the forces that fell all athletic superstars: age, injuries and, in one-on-one sports, the cumulative trauma of agonizing losses.

.. In many ways, watching Federer practice exceeds the entertainment value of watching him compete. It’s pure play and even more of an improv showcase. Every ball is lathered with gratuitous action, spin for spin’s sake, spin as slapstick, and unlike Nadal, who rips violently upward on his shots to impart an ungodly number of rotations per second to the ball, Federer luxuriantly massages every shot as if to prolong the moment of impact and better feel the racket head moving over the ball, string by string. That day, every fifth shot, give or take, was a trick shot

.. Federer, Nadal, Murray and Novak Djokovic have dominated the second week of majors for a decade, but only Federer seems to take consistent and obvious pleasure in what he is doing on the court.

.. In part that may come from Federer’s not having grown up subjected to the same preadolescent all-or-nothing pressure of his major peers.

.. Two-handers are easier to hit, especially for youngsters, and dependable as diesel engines. But anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that one-handers bring more joy to a player, if only because they are beautiful, and to hit them well, you have to let them go.

Pete Sampras, whose record seven Wimbledon titles was broken by Federer in July, once told me that when he went from a two-handed to a one-handed backhand, he was transformed from a grinder to a shot maker, and the game became immensely more enjoyable for him.

Why Geezers Have Taken Over Professional Tennis

For the first time in the game’s modern era, the top five players in the world—and the top five seeds at Wimbledon—are over 30 years old

For the first time in the game’s modern era, the five best players in the world—and the five top seeds at Wimbledon—are all over 30 years old.

.. Half of the 32 seeds at Wimbledon, which starts Monday, are older than 30. Four others are 29.

.. According to Gilbert, tennis players began thinking they could play longer when Agassi made the U.S. Open final in 2005 at 35.

.. a variety of factors—including skyrocketing prize money, better knowledge of fitness and nutrition, and the shaky psyches and physical weaknesses of players who were supposed to bump off the aging greats—have made thirtysomething the new twentysomething in tennis.

.. Tennis experts say both players have recaptured their former glory with a similar strategy—improving their backhands and using the shot as a weapon rather than a defensive tool to set up a forehand.

.. Money, and the opportunities and comforts it provides, is driving the demographic change.

.. The money allows the top players to travel with entourages that include coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, masseuses and nutritionists.

.. Instead of banging balls on the court for four hours of practice, they may hit for 90 minutes but do 90 minutes of strength, agility, flexibility and fitness training.

.. serial beatdowns have likely caused chronic mental damage.

“Generally if you are going to be a multiple slam winner you will win when you are young,” he said. “When you don’t do that the mental game comes into play.