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It’s hard to tell what kind of a film Danny Boyle will start working on, though you can always bet a fair amount of money that it won’t be a sequel to Trainspotting. Get ready to collect your winnings if you’ve done that, as the esteemed director appears to be dashing across a clay court on his way to a possible narrative film centered on the legendary tennis champion and civil rights advocate Billie Jean King. The last good film I can think of that revolved around tennis is Woody Allen’s 2005 crime drama Match Point. Something tells me this biopic will be completely different.
The New York Post’s PageSix reports Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, his Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, are in New York with producer Christian Colson to meet up with King to begin their prep work for the feature and the script. Not only did these three men turn the aforementioned Dev Patel-starring drama into Best Picture winner, but they also all created James Franco’s real life hardship drama 127 Hours in 2010. These are people who know how to capitalize on powerful stories, and King’s is one for the ages.
While it will probably touch upon her early life and later career, the bulk of the film will be about the classic 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" match featuring King facing a masculinity-heaving Bobby Riggs, who at that point was 26 years her senior. It was a definite high mark in tennis’ popularity, and King went on to conquer the sport for another 20 years, promoting gender equality with each step. Things were made even tougher when she was outed in 1981 during a lawsuit. While these modern times would almost require for her lesbianism to become a thread in the story, there’s no telling what Beaufoy’s script will contain. Take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the "Battle" if you’re not already aware.
For those counting, this story has definitely already been told before, in Jane Anderson’s 2001 comedic drama When Billy Beat Bobby, starring Holly Hunter as King and Ron Silver as Riggs. As well, James Erskine directed the documentary Battle of the Sexes, which came out in the U.K. last year. You can find a trailer for that below.
I’m betting Boyle is going to get a world of personal info out of King to make his biopic truly stand above everything else. Otherwise, what’s the point? King fans, take note that the admirable athlete will be representing the United States as part of the presidential delegation at the closing ceremonies.