It’s been 44 years since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs faced off at Houston’s Astrodome for their man-versus-woman tennis match. Now, their climactic showdown is getting the big-screen treatment, with Emma Stone and Steve Carell playing the two tennis legends in the new film Battle of the Sexes. Before you head to the theater, however, you can revisit the King-Riggs match through archival footage — the same archival footage that director Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton relied on to make their film version as accurate as possible.
At the time, the match was one of the biggest televised sporting events in history, with more than 90 million people watching on ABC. The AP’s video archive has a selection of footage from the original match (below), including King and Riggs’ dramatic entrances. Both players wanted to turn their arrival on the court into as big a spectacle as possible: King entered on a giant, feathery throne carried by shirtless men, while Riggs played up his “sexist pig” persona by wearing a “Sugar Daddy” costume and embracing a literal, squealing pig.
But once they took to the court, it was all business.
“In approaching the match, we wanted to cover it from the public’s point of view,” Faris told EW earlier this summer. “So [in the film] we go outside of the characters’ POV at that point and watch it like the public watched it on broadcast television. We just thought it was important to get that sense that this is going out to millions of viewers.”
“The coverage looks like the TV coverage, where you’re not cutting all the time,” Dayton added. “You’re just seeing it the way the public witnessed it.”
Battle of the Sexes is in theaters now.