A biopic about Wimbledon tennis champion and African American civil rights activist Arthur Ashe is in the works at Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment Group and Warner Music Group.
Academy Award winner Kevin Willmott, whose credits include “BlacKkKlansman” and “Da 5 Bloods,” will write the screenplay, which has the full support of the Arthur Ashe Estate.
Ashe’s inspirational story started on the public tennis courts in Richmond, Va., as he eventually rose to become the only Black man to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, achieving a No. 1 ranking in the world. Ashe’s victory at the 1968 U.S. Open came as the nation struggled with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., anti-Vietnam protests and the civil rights movement. Ashe was able to forge his role within the Black revolution in America, finding his own unique voice as he struck a bold new path against apartheid in South Africa and helped open the country to freedom.
The film will also include music from the era, highlighting the works from iconic African American artists including Aretha Franklin, Prince, Curtis Mayfield and more. Warner Music Group will help secure the music and provide creative guidance.
Amritraj, who competed at Wimbledon before becoming a producer, said, “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.”
Amritraj will produce for Hyde Park and Charles Cohen for WMG. Executive producers include Ashe’s wife Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Hyde Park’s Priya Amritraj and Addison Mehr, alongside Alexandra Dell.
Willmott is represented by Gersh and Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings LLP.