Programming comes to the ESPN Player later this month.
With Wimbledon and the Tour de France on the horizon, ESPN Player gives fans the chance to relive some of tennis and cycling’s greatest rivalries and enthralling stories from the award-winning ESPN Films. The documentaries will be added to ESPN Player’s slate from the 30th June.
Highlights include Unmatched. The first time Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova stepped onto a tennis court together, the world scarcely noticed. Only a few hundred spectators saw the pert 18-year-old beat the scrappy 16-year-old Czech in 1973.
“I remember that she was fat,” Evert recalled. “She was very emotional on the court, whining if she didn’t feel she was playing well. But I remember thinking, if she loses weight, we’re all in trouble.” Said Navratilova, “My goal was for her to remember my name.” Eighty matches later – amid the extraordinary growth of women’s tennis – Evert not only remembered, but became a tried and true friend and confidante, remarkable considering the two appeared to be polar opposites in upbringing, life styles and personal relationships. Through a series of personal conversations, filmmakers Nancy Stern Winters and Lisa Lax, along with producer Hannah Storm, tell the story of one of the greatest one-on-one sports rivalries and capture these two extraordinary athletes’ views on tennis and an ever-changing world.
Also in Slaying the Badger ESPN tells the story of Greg LeMond. Before Lance Armstrong, there was Greg LeMond, who is now the first and only American to win the Tour de France. In this engrossing documentary, LeMond looks back at the pivotal 1986 Tour and his increasingly vicious rivalry with friend, teammate and mentor Bernard Hinault. The reigning Tour champion and brutal competitor known as “The Badger,” Hinault “promised” to help LeMond to his first victory, in return for LeMond supporting him in the previous year. But in a sport that purports to reward teamwork, it’s really every man for himself.
This is What They Want is an examination of Jimmy Connors’ career told through the lens of the 1991 U.S. Open, when Connors so famously played at the age of 39 past five challengers, through an epic contest with Aaron Krickstein, and all the way to the semi-finals before being stopped by Jim Courier.
But it’s not just an examination of that tournament: it’s a look at how Connors and the colleagues/adversaries of his heyday re-invented tennis in the first decade of the Open era to be a high-octane spectator sport for the whole country, colored by intense competitors with strong personalities and towering, well-matched talents. And it’s an exploration of the way “character” players like Connors changed the game and carved out legacies through their careers on the court.
And Renee tells the story of Renee Richards’ battle to enter the 1977 U.S. Open as the first transgender tennis player. Simultaneously, it follows her today as she struggles to cope with a life of contradictions and personal conflict. Through interviews with tennis legends, family, friends and experts from the transgender field, a story of perseverance, breakthrough and hardship unfolds.
Also new to ESPN Player is Branded from ESPN’s Nine for IX series which explores the double standard placed on female athletes to be the best players on the field and the sexiest off of it. Through stories of the women who have faced and tackled this question in very different ways, the documentary explores the question ‘can women’s sports ever gain an equal footing with their male counterparts, or will sex appeal always override achievement?’