Venus VS.

Directed by:
Ava DuVernay


ESPN Film Description

We know about the swing. We know about the swagger. But what most Americans don't know about Venus Williams is how she changed the course of her sport. In a stunning case that captured the European public beginning in 2005, Williams challenged the long-held practice of paying women tennis players less than their male counterparts at Wimbledon.

With a deep sense of obligation to the legacy of Billie Jean King, Williams lobbied British Parliament, UNESCO and Fleet Street for financial parity. And it was her poignant op-ed piece in The London Times that convinced many people that the Wimbledon tournament organizers were "on the wrong side of history."

Roland Garros and Wimbledon finally relented in 2007. That year at Wimbledon, Venus became the first women's champion to earn as much as the men's singles winner (Roger Federer).

"Venus VS." chronicles Williams' fight for pay equality.

Directors Statement

"Venus VS." is a documentary examining the ground-breaking actions of Venus Williams and the fair pay struggle in the game of women's tennis as it unfolded at Wimbledon from 1973-2012. From the advent of the WTA by Billie Jean King and the Original Nine to the 2012 gender politics reignited by male tennis player Gilles Simon, the film outlines the prelude to, and impact of, Williams' bold public statement and private campaigning, which served as a springboard for radical change within the sport.

Venus is a superior athlete, a legend; but she is also an activist who revolutionized her sport off the court with her fight for prize equality. I don't believe this story should be relegated to dusty history books and British newspapers. People in the United States should know of her true professional bravery and personal tenacity in making sure women athletes are regarded and rewarded on par with their male counterparts. This is my mission.

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