A biopic on tennis legend Arthur Ashe is currently in the works, scripted by Kevin Willmott, frequent Spike Lee collaborator and the co-writer of his recent features BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods.

Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment and Warner Music Group are also producing. Ashe’s estate is backing the project. With Warner Music Group in, music will be a heavy component of the film, utilizing music from Aretha Franklin, Prince, Curtis Mayfield to bring together the sights, sounds and creativity of this era. WMG will secure the music and “provide creative guidance.”

As reported by IndieWire:

The biopic follows the sporting story of the African American tennis icon who defied all odds, from the public courts in Richmond, Virginia, to becoming the only black man to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, and was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1968 — one of the most charged eras in American history as the nation struggled with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., anti-Vietnam protests, and the civil rights movement — before he retired in 1980.

 Ashe demonstrated his emotional courage and bravery in his choice to reveal to the world his struggle with AIDS, which was believed to have been contracted 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.

“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,” said Amritraj, a former pro tennis star himself and the brother of Vijay Amritraj.

This is the second time in recent years that there has been an effort to bring Ashe’s story to the big screen. A script from Krystin Ver Linden was in development in 2007, set to be produced by David Goyer and Russell Hollander. This project did not move forward.

Both Boris Kodjoe and Jay Ellis have expressed interest in playing Ashe over the years.



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Photo: Getty