Billie wins Wimbledon the next day. At the Players' Ball, Bobby approaches Larry and asks him to lean on his wife to play a "boy vs. girl" match against Bobby. Larry waves off Bobby, so he wanders off to find another target -- Chrissie Evert. "I want to promote 'Beauty vs. The Beast," he says eagerly, but Chrissie's father says no. He suspects it's one of Bobby's hustles, and asks him to stay away from his daughter. "We've had our time," he says. Bobby stares at him, then whispers, "I love the game. I can't help it." Aw. He's a tragic hero. Except without the hero part, and the tragic part, and indeed the "Aw" part.
"King vs. The United States Lawn Tennis Association," the caption reads. Uppity officials tell Billie Jean that they can justify the pay discrepancies -- and she points out that it's a $15,000 discrepancy, so she's eager to hear their logic. "Men play more sets," one man offers. "And the ladies are the ones drawing the crowds," Billie Jean counters. She gamely and politely says that the female players will stop showing up to tournaments if the pay isn't level with the men. Beaming, she bites into a roll.
In his Las Vegas "hideout," Bobby is evangelizing the superiority of men, but he's doing it in a too-tight electric-blue track suit that's really undermining his argument. If he reopened Twenty Excuses, he could see that "I'm wearing a Pregnancy Empathy Belly" is listed at number fifteen, and would really do a lot to excuse the small mountain community that's taken up residence underneath his pulled-taut jacket. "Women don't deserve [their fair share] because they couldn't win more than one or two games a set against men! Even an old, tired 55-year-old guy like me!" he shouts, spittle bombs flying. As he announces that he's written Billie Jean to formally challenge her, we see Larry massaging Billie's muscles while reading the missive aloud. "Bobby!" she groans. "Leave me alone!" In Vegas, Bobby proclaims that there's money in it for Billie Jean, but if she won't bite, then he'll take his offer to the next player on his list. Larry plays devil's advocate, suggesting it might not be a bad move to accept Bobby's dare. "If he wins, he'll keep with the chauvinist thing forever and ever and ever," she groans. "Keep me away from this guy. I have more important things to do!"
So naturally, Margaret Court trots into the locker room later on and says she's agreed to a match against Bobby, largely because she gets $35,000 to do it, plus more if she wins. Billie Jean sighs. "It's not going to be a one-day deal," Billie points out. "It'll go on and on." Margaret thinks it's just a spot of fun, a light-hearted romp on-court that can't hurt anyone. "I can handle it," she says, defensively. Billie Jean watches her leave, shaking her head. "She doesn't have a clue," BJ sighs.
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Walking up to one of the Wimbledon courts, Bobby is regaling rising star Jimmy Connors with his Wimbledon history. It's totally embellished and depicts him as true star of the sport, which was never the case with Bobby Riggs, but he still maintains that he won $100,000 by betting on himself in all three Wimbledon events. Jimmy asks what happened to his career after that apparent triumph. Stunned and momentarily shaken, Bobby is silent. Um. Mentally, he rifles through Twenty Excuses For Any Occasion
and says, "There was a war! We all got drafted. There was no Wimbledon." Which is actually true -- Wimbledon didn't resume play until 1946 -- but it's still a fairly thin excuse for his short moment of success. Bobby catches wind of a women's match that's drawn quite a crowd -- the police guard won't let him in, even though he's Bobby Riggs, because the police guard doesn't give a shit about Bobby Riggs and doesn't know who he is -- and peeks around the fence to watch. "How did the girls get to be so popular?" he asks, confused. "Guess it's the lib thing," Lorney says. Bobby hasn't heard of this so-called Liberation Movement. He's intrigued, doubly so when Billie Jean argues a point. He thinks she's spunky. Must be the leg muscles. I don't know what workout plan Holly Hunter used, but oh my God, her quads are so big that they need their own seats on airplanes.
"King vs. the Status Quo," the screen reads. Billie Jean's fresh mullet approaches a table of female players and tells them with a grin that Wimbledon didn't up the prize money for women because they needed funds to plant more hydrangeas around the grounds. "This is the year, mamas, this is the year we'll have our own association," Billie Jean says, eyes glinting. Larry, who's also a lawyer, has told her they can have it up and running before the US Open comes up two months down the line. "I refuse to let this go. We are happening, baby!" They all clap except for one older blonde woman, who views them with distaste. She doesn't understand why they need a new association, and doesn't want to sign a petition because she could be suspended. "Not if we all sign it," says a brunette. The Older Biddy says she'll sign it only if Margaret does -- and Margaret, sitting demurely at a nearby table, calls out softly that she doesn't see a need to sign it. "I don't care about the money," she says. "I'm not here to make trouble. I'm just here to play tennis." Billie Jean and her supporters stare blankly at Margaret. Finally, BJ whispers to keep working at it while she targets Chrissie Evert. But Bobby accosts Billie Jean first. They greet each other warmly, and he begs Billie to play against him in this "fantastic" match that he'll promote. Grinning the whole way, Billie Jean dispenses with him quickly, but he's persistent and won't give up completely.
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