Factual prodcos Cornelia Street Productions, Handel Productions and Arrow Media are producing a feature doc, The Goddess and the American Girl, with tennis icon Martina Navratilova (pictured) executive producing.
The Goddess and The American Girl follows the journey of French prima donna Suzanne Lenglen and California sensation Helen Wills against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties. By 15, Lenglen became the youngest major champion in tennis history — and as much a diva off the court as on it. Californian-born Wills was the embodiment of the energy of an emerging America. By 1925, Lenglen and Wills were dominating women’s tennis on their respective sides of the Atlantic, but they had yet to face one another. The world wanted a showdown and the opportunity came in February 1926 at the Carlton Club Tournament in Cannes when ‘The Goddess and the American Girl’ faced off on center court.
“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,” Navratilova, said in a statement.
Writer and journalist Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated, is also attached to the project as EP. His book Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played was adapted into a feature documentary.
“Bringing such a pivotal moment in history to the screen requires exceptional voices. We are thrilled to have Martina and Jon as executive producers,” said Alan Handel, found of Handel Productions. “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.”
Featuring unprecedented access to original 1920s footage, which will be colorized for the first time, The Goddess and the American Girl explores the emerging role of women through the lens of Lenglen and Wills’s very public battle.
“The huge amount of interest we have had in this project exemplifies how important this event is to the history of women everywhere,” Sarah Sapper , managing director, Cornelia Street Productions, said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” adds Tom Brisley, creative director of Arrow Media. “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.”
The Goddess and the American Girl is a co-production between Cornelia Street Productions, Handel Productions and Arrow Media, it is executive produced by Sapper and David Kerr for Cornelia Street Productions, Handel for Handel Productions and Brisley for Arrow Media.