Jodi Guglielmi
May 10, 2017 08:00 AM


Game, set, match!

Emma Stone and Steve Carell go head-to-head on the tennis court in their upcoming film Battle of the Sexes — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look.

The film follows the legendary 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Carell). The face-off became one of the most-watched televised sports events of all time, and was nicknamed the battle of the sexes.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

“This was a really important and serious time in the women’s liberation movement, and it was one of the first times that a political issue was acted out in the circus-like atmosphere,” co-director Jonathon Dayton tells PEOPLE. “It just felt incredibly relevant to today’s time.”

Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

To prepare for the role, both Carell and Stone spent months training on the tennis court.

“Steve practiced with Riggs’ trainer,” says co-director Valerie Faris. “He told us he’s never worked this long for a movie.”

And while Stone didn’t have a tennis background, she was more than happy to dive into the world of a famous athlete.

Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

“Emma trained like an action hero,” says Dayton.

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They say the actress gained 15 lbs. of muscle by hitting the gym and doing push-ups on-set.

“She felt so much responsibility to Billie Jean,” says Faris.

Battle of the Sexes bounces into theaters Sept. 22.

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