Not one, but two Billie Jean Kings attended the women’s final at the US Open Saturday afternoon in New York City. The real King sat beside Emma Stone, who is playing the tennis legend in the upcoming film Battle of the Sexes, for the big match between Americans Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens.
“Sitting here at the US Open next to her, hearing her commentary on this sport — she’s so brilliant in so many ways,” Stone told Pam Shriver on ESPN’s telecast. When asked if she was able to get a word in, Stone added, “I wouldn’t want to.”
The admiration between the two was abundantly clear. “Being played by Emma, I was shocked and amazed and thankful and blessed… to see how she processes,” King said. “She is the No. 1 actor in the world right now and just to listen to her and how eloquent and how much work she did. She works hard but she’s also really smart and really intelligent. It’s been quite amazing spending time with her. She’s amazing.”
“My favorite quality of Billie Jean — and maybe many people feel this way — is that she’s a true humanitarian,” Stone said. “She’s someone who listens to everybody’s story, and she asks so many questions.”
Before the match, Stone performed a tribute with Sara Barellis in honor of the 50th anniversary of King’s 1967 triple crown win (finishing first in the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and women’s mixed doubles championship at the U.S. Open).
Battle of the Sexes, which arrives in theaters on Sept. 22, tells the true story of King’s tennis match against Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell) in 1973.
“This movie is multidimensional,” King explained to Shriver. “It’s not just about the actual match of the Battle of the Sexes. It’s about my life off the court and Bobby Riggs’ life off the court, and every part of the cast are amazing people. They’re really interesting and they gave everything they have.”