“Venus Vs.,” directed by award-winning director Ava DuVernay will highlight the story of tennis star Venus Williams and her journey from practicing with her father and sister in Compton to competing on a national level and her fight for equal prize money for female tennis players at Wimbledon.
The film showcases various scenes of the tennis star’s struggles on the court including the time where Williams is deducted points for some of her hair beads falling during a tournament.
“I’m not going to say it’s a total distraction but it is a little annoying. It’s just things flying in the air that you’re not supposed to be seeing,” a statement given by tennis player Lindsay Davenport back in 1999.
The cultural significance of her beads is something that isn’t understood by white tennis spectators and media, Davenport’s quote suggests.
The film doesn’t delve into topics such as her love life or the perspective of her sister Serena. Its sole focus is Venus’s relationship with the sport of tennis and how it transcended into a fight for equal pay at Wimbledon. Her fight is similar to that of Billie Jean King, a former women’s tennis champion, who rallied for equal pay at the U.S. Open and won in 1972.
With other interviewees placed in other areas of the frame, Venus, shown in a different light and spirit than before, is placed dead center offering a well-rounded narrative.
DuVernay provides highlighted footage of the 2005 singles competition between Williams and Lindsay Davenport. The match, which Venus won, became the longest women’s singles tournament in Wimbledon history. The perseverance and athleticism of both women in this scene and others show just how deserving they are of equal pay in the highly demanding game of tennis.
“Venus Vs.” premieres on ESPN as part of the “Nine for IX” series, on July 2nd.