Billie Jean King is an American idol and one of the greatest sportswomen in the world. On September 20th 1973, the queen of the tennis court challenged 55-year-old former men’s number one and infamous chauvinist Bobby Riggs to an exhibition match. Riggs claimed that King had no chance of winning. The match was played in Houston in front of 30,000 chanting fans. A further 50 million people watched on television. Billie Jean won the match 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, earning respect and recognition for women’s tennis. Emma Stone explains.
The match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs marked a turning-point for sport and for society. The story began somewhat earlier, in 1972 when Billie Jean, the number-one women’s seed for the fifth consecutive year, won three Grand Slam singles titles. But Billie Jean King had another string to her racket: she was a feminist, quick-thinking and smart. She knew full well that her victory could make a huge difference to sex equality in tennis, and even beyond. Her match against Riggs was the first time a tennis game had been televised in prime time. Millions of people tuned in – as many as for a Super Bowl final! I read not too long ago that this is still the largest audience ever for a tennis match in the United States. I wasn’t born when the match took place. In fact I hadn’t heard of it before making Battle of the Sexes. What I do know is that it had a profound impact on gender equality.
At one point I only ever wore vintage men's watches. There was something more stylish about them, more confident compared with women's watches.
Yes, I do. It was a Swatch, a birthday gift from my parents. It was gold-coloured and I remember being terribly proud of it. At one point I only ever wore men’s watches, and not necessarily borrowed from a boyfriend. Most of them were vintage. It’s hard to explain. I just found them more appealing than women’s watches. There was something more stylish about them, more confident. I wasn’t aware at the time, but I suppose they were a way of asserting myself.
No matter what it is or how much it cost, a gift is always intended to bring pleasure. It’s the thought that counts, and most of all the person giving it [laughs]. But it’s true that when we gift someone a watch, what we really want is to remind them of an important event or someone you care about. A watch isn’t something you give off the top of your head. There’s always a reason behind it, something to celebrate, a moment to remember. Giving a watch as a gift is the sign of a special bond and the desire to mark what we hope will be our everlasting affection, friendship or love.
A watch says a lot about its wearer. One glance and you immediately know who you're dealing with.
Never! Although I know that some women do. They reckon that a man who wears a luxury watch must be successful, hence eligible! It’s the same for men who drive fast cars. It’s a very black and white way of thinking. After all, who’s to say his watch isn’t rented for the night? Maybe he bought his Ferrari on credit and goes back to some cheap hotel to sleep. Of course, a watch does say a lot about its wearer. One glance and you immediately know if the person you’re talking to is the exuberant type or prefers to keep it low-key. If they’re into sport and winning, or are more the cerebral kind. If they’re a globetrotter or a stay-at-home guy.
I enjoy technology but I’ve never been attracted to watches with dozens of functions. If I want to know whether it’s going to rain or not, I’d rather look at the app on my smartphone than check the atmospheric pressure display on a watch. For me, a watch is like jewellery or a dress. It should be understated, not something that shouts “look at me”. The advantage of a discreet watch is that you can steal a glance at the time when you’re stuck in some dull situation and need an excuse to get away. A flick of the wrist and, oh! is that the time?! Something you can’t pull off with a smartphone [laughs].