The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) was founded in 1973. King, one of the pioneers of the women's tour, wanted to prove that female tennis players could draw as much as spectators as their male counterparts. It was all about the prize money, but Riggs didn't buy into it. He was the top-ranked male tennis player during his prime, and he wanted to show the world that a 55-year-old could beat the best players on the WTA Tour.
King, who won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles (12 singles, 16 doubles, 11 mixed doubles) during her stellar career, thought that a loss would be a severe blow to the fledgling organization. It could also set the world back by fifty years, she added. She had a point after Riggs beat Court by a one-sided score on Mother's Day. It took place several months before the Battle of the Sexes. If the Aussie legend won the match, then King might not have accepted Riggs's challenge. (Court was the leading female player in 1973, winning three of the four major tournaments.) King may have won the match, but women's tennis would still be tested. Otherwise, Serena Williams might be enjoying her retirement (and her millions). The American, at 35 years of age, would want to surpass Court's major singles total. She would need two more wins.
Why were there several films about that much-hyped match between King and Riggs? The American public witnessed an entertaining spectable without realizing that women's place in American society didn't change much. Nathaniel Hawthorne foresaw it, as Hester Prynne was more than a disgraced figure in a puritanical community. American women couldn't find their proper place, and Ivanka Trump's unspecified role in her father's administration (and extent of her influence) wouldn't mean that a woman could be the next American president. But American women may be lucky.
International Women's Day was celebrated on March 8, which would highlight the contribution of womenfolk in all aspects of society. It was also about women's rights, but there may be a problem here. CBS aired "Murphy Brown" for more than a decade, as the titular character was far from how society wanted women to be. Brown, a decorated TV reporter, was a recovering alcoholic, also difficult to work with, and was accustomed to having her way. All of these attributes wouldn't be a big deal for a man, any man. Hollywood's TV industry honored Candice Bergen, who played Brown, with five Emmy Awards. Some would be skeptical (and described it as industry figures patting each other on the back), yet the sitcom might be ahead of its time.
World Cinema would be a good indicator of how different societies (from different parts of the world) treated women. Let's have a look:
Fire (India). Deepa Mehta got into trouble, as this drama was about an unlikely affair between two married women. It was loud and clear that their husbands weren't good enough for them, as well as the men around them. India, a patriarchal nation, didn't look at the filmmaker kindly. She had no other choice but to seek exile.
Ladybird Ladybird (UK). Ken Loach presented a foul-mouthed woman from a working class background, who was emotionally unstable at times. She also had a habit of wallowing in self-pity, which could be contagious as well. The government saw her unfit as a Mum, which was why her children were taken away from her. And she would struggle to live with it. Loach, the unofficial spokesperson for Britain's working class, didn't have second thoughts of picturing the authorities as the villains in this movie. The titular character deserved all the sympathy, if not unconditional love. (Her partner happened to be a political refugee from South America.) This was far from Jane Austen's heroines, who managed to find a way to play around the system. There was no doubt that the rigid class structure remained unchanged after more than a century, and not all English women were fortunate to be exempted from it.
Run Lola Run (Germany). Tom Tykwer's highly-charged film featured a young woman saving her boyfriend from trouble. Most movies would show the other way around, but Tykwer didn't think of Lola as a fantasy by progressive-minded individuals. She was far from a passive figure, oh-so-resourceful and determined to end the day on a relieved note. And her boyfriend would be more than grateful to her.
10 (Iran). The late Abbas Kiarostami shot many scenes inside the taxi, and it wasn't hard to guess the reason behind it. Could a taxi be the only venue for Iranian women to voice out their thoughts and feelings? Viewers who were suspicious of the Iranian government must know that there have been many female cab drivers plying around Tehran, but it was hard to imagine an Islamic version of "Fiddler on the Roof".
Whale Rider (New Zealand). Niki Caro might have come up with the most uplifting picture during the last two decades or so. A young girl was expected to lead a Maori tribe, but her grandfather couldn't accept the fact that she wasn't a man. It sounded like Moana, right?