EXCLUSIVE: The story of legendary tennis champ Arthur Ashe, the first African-American player to be selected to the U.S. Davis Cup team and to win three Grand Slam titles, is looking to hit the big screen.
The biopic follows not only the sporting story of the tennis icon who defied all odds by becoming the first African-American to be selected for the U.S. Davis Cup during the civil rights movement, but also focuses on his emotional courage and bravery in terms of his humanitarian work and his choice to reveal to the world his struggle with AIDS. Ashe founded the Arthur Ashe foundation for the defeat of AIDS after contracting HIV.
Ashe is the only black man to ever win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open and was ranked world No. 1 in 1968 and in 1975 before he retired in 1980.
He spent many of his years in tennis fighting against discrimination and was believed to have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery. Ashe publicly announced his illness in 1992, then spent the last year of his life working to educate and broaden public awareness of HIV and AIDS. He died in 1993 at the age of 49. That same year he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.
ESPN’s ESPY Awards presents the Arthur Ashe Courage Award annually to individuals whose actions “transcend sports.”
Ashe is currently being packaged and will be shopped to studios and financiers.
Ver Linden is repped by WME.