While Battle of the Sexes portrays the fierce competition between tennis greats Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, Riggs' son says his dad's chauvinistic persona was all an act.
Speaking to Inside Edition, Larry Riggs recalled the final conversation his father had with King before his death in 1995, at age 77.
"She said, 'Bobby, I want you to know I love you a lot,'" Larry Riggs recalled. "He said, 'Billie, I love you too and we did something big together,' and she said, 'Bobby, we did.'"
The movie stars Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs. It retells the story of the epic 1973 showdown between the tennis players, pitting feminist King, then 29, against Riggs, then 55.
"He would be in my opinion a little surprised at the movie because he didn't take himself that serious," Larry Riggs said.
He said his dad was tickled by how much his anti-feminist rhetoric was riling up American women.
"He said, 'Larry, this is really working. These women are really buying into all of this stuff that I'm saying. The women's movement can't stand me. They hate me. This couldn't be better PR. They're buying it hook, line and sinker."
He added that he remembered his dad was more interested in promoting the match than getting into shape for it.
"I said, 'Hey Dad, this is worrying me a little bit. This Billie Jean King is a really good player, she's a really good competitor.' He said, 'I know. It's not going to be easy but don't forget, I'm the Wimbledon champion, not you.'"
But on Sept. 20, 1973, 90 million viewers tuned in to watch King defeat Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.
Larry Riggs said that when the match finished, his dad jumped over the net, shook King's hand and told her, "I should have taken you more seriously."