A biopic is currently in the works about former tennis star Arthur Ashe. Before his death in 1993, the Wimbledon champ drew attention for his play on the courts and his work as a Civil Rights activist. Now it will be on display during the upcoming production from Hyde Park Entertainment Group and Warner Music Group.
"Arthur's legacy reaches far beyond his greatness as a tennis player. Always a gentleman, bold, graceful, and intellectual; while at the same time passionate in his fight against racial inequality and injustice, I am honored to bring Arthur's story to the screen," Hyde Park CEO Ashok Amritraj said about the product. He competed at Wimbledon before becoming a producer and will work in the same capacity on the upcoming project. Charles Cohen will produce for WMG.
Ashe created a name in the tennis world as he rose through the ranks. He became the first African American to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open. He also achieved a No. 1 ranking in the world. When Ashe secured the victory in the 1968 U.S. Open, he did so against the backdrop of the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. There were also ongoing anti-Vietnam protests, as well as the civil rights movement. Ashe also fought against South Africa's apartheid system, a form of racial segregation.
The tennis star later became an AIDS activist during the 1980s. He contracted the disease through a series of blood transfusions related to heart surgery. He later died in 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia at the age of 49.
According to Yahoo!, Kevin Willmott will write the screenplay for the biopic, which has the backing of Ashe's estate. He previously co-wrote BlacKkKlansman, winning an Academy Award and has worked with director Spike Lee multiple times. This includes the Netflix film, Da 5 Bloods.
Music from Ashe's era of tennis will play a significant role in the film. Warner Music Group is working to secure the song rights and will provide creative guidance throughout the process. Some of the featured artists are Aretha Franklin, Prince and Curtis Mayfield.
A previous Ashe film was in the works in 2017, which used a script written by Krystin Ver Linden. David Goyer and Russell Hollander were among the producers working on bringing the project to theaters, but it never happened. The project remains inactive while Hyde Park's biopic moves forward.