EXCLUSIVE: Tennis great Billie Jean King has signed to narrate a docuseries that will tell stories of pay inequities, motherhood, LGBTQ+ rights, and intersectionality and diversity in women’s sports. Glamour and Condé Nast Entertainment, along with King and Little Monster Films, are producing a series to show the trailblazers who tried to bridge the appalling disparity of pay and standing that female athletes past and present have endured.
The jumping off point was a Glamour cover that focused on how a fed-up King and a group of top female tennis players called the Original 9 tried to bridge the pay gap between the scraps they were getting, and the big paydays limited to their male counterparts. The 27-year old King was top player in her sport where the entire women’s prize pool was $5000. King led a group that included her doubles partner Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Julie Heldman, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton, Kerry Melville Reid, Peaches Bartkowicz, and Kristy Pigeon. They announced their own tour—it became the forerunner of the Women’s Tennis Association– and found enough sponsors and financial support to launch a 23 match tour with an unprecedented $100,000 in prize money. The series will focus on that and other struggles that led to coure corrections, and areas that need to improve. Anyone who watched the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team win the World Cup again in 2019 likely knows of their struggle to be paid comparable to their male counterparts.
The multi-part series will be produced by Oscar winners Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
“We’ve made progress in pay equality in and out of sports, but there’s still so much more to do for future generations,” said King. “People have to invest in women—and I don’t mean just women investing in women, I mean everyone. I’m excited to partner with Glamour to bring these vital issues to a wider audience.”
Glamour editor Samantha Barry said that after the magazine exhibited “long history of championing our female sporting heroes and demanding their equal remuneration, we are committing to our first ever long-form docuseries chronicling this historic fight. These are sportswomen, but they are also all women—and this incredible piece of storytelling has the power to reshape all our futures.”
“Jimmy and I have a long history of telling athletes’ stories, digging in to both their sport and a larger narrative of ambition, motivation, and risk,” says Little Monster Films’ Chai Vasarhelyi. “We are passionate about spotlighting new and unheard voices among women athletes, and this series with Glamour and the legendary Billie Jean will capture those character-driven stories. On the court, we’re seeing more and more teams standing united in their activism. Now is the time for this project, as the relationship between our sports and our wider political conversations is at an all-time high.”
The project will be shopped by WME.