Billie Jean King is the single most important female athlete of the 20th century, winner of 39 Grand Slam titles and a major force in changing and democratizing the cultural landscape. AMERICAN MASTERS looks back to the 12-year-old girl who played tennis on public courts, observed disparity and, as she soared athletically, never stopped trying to remedy inequality. Perhaps best remembered from “The Battle of the Sexes” match vs. Bobby Riggs on Sept. 20, 1973, her competitiveness on the court was matched by her efforts on behalf of women and the LGBT community, and her commitment to prove there is strength in diversity.


“Billie Jean King” won The Battle of the Sexes back in 1973. Feminism became widely accepted, both genders lived in equality and nothing was ever wrong with the cosmos again. Tennis really means that much and it’s nice to hear that from such luminaries as Hillary Clinton and Chris Evert. If you’re chuckling, then you get my point. But, it is nice to see the archival footage of some quality tennis playing.

PBS usually doesn’t put together the best talking head documentaries. However, I usually dig it when we get a point to the program and at 90 minutes, this is nothing more than an attempt to canonize one of the world’s best tennis players. I appreciate the effort to showcase the athleticism, but King’s accomplishments for the LGBT community far outweight the one scuffle with Bobby Riggs. Hell, the surviving members of the Riggs family elude to it without trying to come across as assholes.

The DVD comes with no special features. But, it’s typical for PBS documentaries. The A/V Quality is on par with most past releases. But, that’s not like it was something that would blow out your home theater. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase to the curious.



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