Emma Stone honed dance skills to play tennis great Billie Jean King

Emma Stone
Updated 21 September 2017
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Emma Stone honed dance skills to play tennis great Billie Jean King

LOS ANGELES: Emma Stone admits she has never been a sports player, so when she was asked to play former world tennis No. 1 Billie Jean King in the movie “Battle of the Sexes,” the Oscar-winning actress approached it from a different direction — dancing.
King, by contrast, who pioneered the fight for equal pay in tennis more than 40 years ago, pictured herself in Stone’s position as she worked with the actress to portray her character.
“I tried to put myself in Emma’s shoes. That is really taking a risk portraying someone who is still alive,” King said.
Stone, 28, and the 73-year-old tennis legend became good friends while making the movie that tells the story behind King’s 1973 exhibition match against former men’s champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) to fight sexism in the sport and society at large. It opens in US movie theaters on Friday.
Stone, who won an Oscar in February for song and dance musical “La La Land,” had never played tennis so her early sessions with King focused on footwork and choreography.
“I danced, so footwork was good. (And) I had been on stage before and when Billie Jean went out onto the tennis court it felt like her stage, so she really keyed in on that,” Stone said.
Later came weeks of practice on serves and cross-court backhands, but for Stone, even the simplest things were tough.
”We went to the US Open ... and I was sitting next to Billie Jean, and Sloane Stephens was catching balls and tucking them in her skirt and bouncing them with the racquet.
“It is just little in-between stuff but that took me months to learn!” Stone said.
Professional players were hired to reproduce the shots in the match against Riggs, which was watched by more than 50 million on television.
For her part, King worked for weeks with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy recalling her experience in the early 1970s, when she not only established the break-away Women’s Tennis Association and took on Riggs but also was wrestling with her own sexual identity. She came out as gay in 1981.
More than 40 years after beating Riggs, women are still fighting for equal pay and rights on and off the tennis court, not that it comes as any surprise to King.
”If you read history, you realize how slow progress is and that it is each generation’s job to try and move the ball forward.
“We have come further, but we have a lot further to go,” King said.


Marriage is (literally) good for the heart: study

Updated 19 June 2018
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Marriage is (literally) good for the heart: study

  • The risk of dying was likewise elevated for the non-married, by 42 percent from coronary heart disease and by 55 percent from stroke
  • The study examined ethnically varied populations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, adding weight to the results

PARIS: Even if marriage is sometimes more a bed of nails than roses, living into old age with a partner may help ward off heart disease and stroke, researchers said Tuesday.
A sweeping survey of research conducted over the last two decades covering more than two million people aged 42 to 77 found that being hitched significantly reduced the risk of both maladies, they reported in the medical journal Heart.
The study examined ethnically varied populations in Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia, adding weight to the results.
Compared to people living in spousal union, the divorced, widowed or never married were 42 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 16 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease, the study found.
The risk of dying was likewise elevated for the non-married, by 42 percent from coronary heart disease and by 55 percent from stroke.
The results were nearly the same for men and women, except for stroke, to which men were more susceptible.
“These findings may suggest that marital status should be considered in the risk assessment for cardiovascular disease,” concluded a team led by Chun Wai Wong, a researcher at Royal Stoke Hospital’s department of cardiology, in Stoke-on-Trent in Britain.
Four-fifths of all cardiovascular disease can be attributed to a proven set of “risk factors“: advanced age, being a man, high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Marriage, in other words, could be an important share of the missing 20 percent.
More precisely, living together — with or without a wedding band — is probably the operative factor, if indeed conjugal status has any impact at all.
But most of the 34 studies reviewed by Wong and colleagues did not identify couples out of wedlock or same-sex unions, so it was not possible to know whether, statistically, such arrangements were the equivalent of being wed.
Because the study was observational rather than based on a controlled experiment — something scientists can do with mice but not humans — no clear conclusions could be drawn as to cause-and-effect.
That leaves open the question of why marriages may be “protective.”
“There are various theories,” the researchers said in a statement.
Having someone around to take care of one’s health problems and keep track of one’s meds is probably a plus, as are two incomes or pensions instead of one.
More intangibly, not living alone is thought to be good for morale, and for neural stimulation. People living in couples, earlier research has shown, also have lower rates of dementia.