[00:00.00]American actress Emma Stone admits she has never played tennis.
[00:06.92]So to play the role of tennis champion Billie Jean King in the new film Battle of the Sexes, she prepared her body using a different exercise: dance.
[00:24.90]Battle of the Sexes tells the story of King’s 1973 exhibition match against former men’s champion Bobby Riggs, played in the film by Steve Carell.
[00:44.06]It also tells the story of King fighting for equal pay and against sexism in sports.
[00:54.18]Stone, who is 28, and King, the 73-year-old tennis great, became good friends while making the movie.
[01:08.21]King said, “I tried to put myself in Emma’s shoes. That’s really taking a risk portraying someone who is still alive. I‘m like, ‘God, that’s a little pressure.”
[01:23.16]Stone won an Oscar earlier this year for her work in the musical movie La La Land.
[01:33.47]In that film, she had to sing and dance. So she practiced her footwork and body movements to play King.
[01:46.28]“I danced, so footwork was good. (And) I had been on stage before and when Billie Jean went out onto the tennis court it felt like her stage, so she really keyed in on that,” Stone said.
[02:03.34]Stone also practiced basic tennis moves like serves and cross-court backhands.
[02:11.92]But even after weeks of work, she still struggled with the simple things related to the sport.
[02:21.54]Stone said, ”We went to the U.S. Open ... and I was sitting next to Billie Jean, and Sloane Stephens was catching balls and tucking them in her skirt and bouncing them with the racquet.
[02:37.95]“It’s just little in-between stuff but that took me months to learn!”
[02:45.07]King herself worked with the film’s screenwriter.
[02:50.35]She recalled her experiences in the sport in the early 1970s.
[02:57.06]At the time, she was trying to establish a professional tour for women.
[03:04.60]There was also her match against Riggs.
[03:09.03]King beat Bobby Riggs in that famous Battle of the Sexes tennis match.
[03:16.70]More than 50 million people watched it on television.
[03:21.34]King says she is not surprised that women are still fighting for equal pay.
[03:30.00]She said, ”If you read history, you realize how slow progress is and that it’s each generation’s job to try and move the ball forward."
[03:45.87]“We’ve come further, but we’ve a lot further to go,” King said.
[03:52.04]Battle of the Sexes opens on Friday, September 22, in theaters across the United States.
[04:02.02]I’m Caty Weaver.