To mark the release of “Battle of the Sexes” (in theaters Friday, Sept. 22), the new Fox Searchlight film about the legendary tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, parent company 21st Century Fox will donate a portion of ticket sales to the Women’s Sports Foundation, founded by King to empower female athletes. For every ticket sold on opening weekend, the company will donate 79 cents to WSF, representing the 79 cents that women in the United States earn on average for every dollar paid to men. The donation reflects both organizations’ commitments to both ensuring equality in the workplace, and continuing to expand opportunities for women in sports of all ages.
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, “Battle of the Sexes” depicts the 1973 tennis match between King, the women’s world champion at the time, and Riggs, the former men’s champion – a match that became one of the most watched sporting events of all time. The film explores not just the match itself but the social and cultural issues of the era, including LGBT acceptance and the fight to guarantee equal pay for men and women. Even then, King was leading the charge for female tennis players to earn fair wages and equal prize money for championship tournaments.
“I knew this match was about social change. It wasn’t [just] about tennis,” she said in a recent interview. “All I wanted was to get the essence of the fight for equality and what we were going through on all fronts… We need equal pay for equal work.”
21CF’s donation of funds from opening weekend ticket sales will support two initiatives developed in partnership between the company and WSF. The first is a special edition of WSF’s Travel & Training Fund for women who have shown leadership in advocating for, or otherwise furthering, greater inclusivity in their sport. Travel & Training grants provide financial support to promising female athletes who have demonstrated financial need and would not otherwise be able to afford basic necessities like coaching, travel and equipment to achieve even higher performance levels and rankings. The second initiative is a high school classroom curriculum guide based on the film. The guide will help facilitate discussions on gender equality, the history of the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, diversity and inclusion broadly, and the landmark Title IX legislation, and will be made freely available to high school educators along with a DVD copy of the film.
Since 2014, 21CF businesses have donated over $1 million to WSF, and the company is a regular supporter of WSF’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports, a gala recognizing the world’s top female athletes. 21CF also worked closely with WSF on campaigns surrounding the FOX series “Pitch” to support WSF’s Sports 4 Life program, which awards grants to schools, parks and recreation departments, nonprofits, or amateur sports leagues that encourage the participation and retention of young African-American and Hispanic girls in developmental sports programs.
Learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, including their research into how sports programs benefit young girls, their grant and scholarship programs, and more.
“Battle of the Sexes” opens in theaters September 22.