Factual Trio Align for Martina Navratilova Tennis Doc


Cornelia Street Productions, Handel Productions and Arrow Media have partnered for The Goddess and The American Girl, a feature documentary about a historical tennis match between two women, executive produced by Martina Navratilova.

The Goddess and The American Girl tells the story of French prima donna Suzanne Lenglen and California’s Helen Wills against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties. In an era when women didn’t play sports, these two women took center stage in the “match of the century.” The doc, exploring the emerging role of women through the lens of Lenglen and Wills’s public battle, will feature unprecedented access to original 1920s footage, which will be colorized for the first time.

Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated, joins Navratilova as executive producer.

Navratilova said: “Everything was a man’s world, and these women transcended the sport. They blazed that trail. They affected women’s rights and gave women the right to dream. To hope.”

Sarah Sapper, managing director of Cornelia Street Productions, said: “The huge amount of interest we have had in this project exemplifies how important this event is to the history of women everywhere. These two unsung women pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be female. We are delighted to have such a stellar team on board to tell their story.”

Alan Handel, founder of Handel Productions, added: “Bringing such a pivotal moment in history to the screen requires exceptional voices. We are thrilled to have Martina and Jon as executive producers. We also have a cast of outstanding contributors including Chris Evert, winner of 18 grand slam singles titles; and Stacey Allaster, former CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, a strong advocate for women. This is a story with huge global reach so it’s wonderful to be giving it the attention it deserves.”

Tom Brisley, creative director at Arrow Media, said: “The Goddess and The American Girl isn’t just about female athletes taking center stage for the first time; it’s the story of how two individuals helped transform what was possible for all women. The treasure trove of newly discovered archive material will be painstakingly colorized to bring the story alive, in the full color in which it happened. We hope that the film will capture the world’s attention.”