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Reese Witherspoon’s next film is set to tell an important feminist story

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Susan Devaney
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One of the greatest tennis players of all time, Martina Navratilova, is set to be the subject of a documentary produced by Reese Witherspoon. 

Martina Navratilova has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles in tennis, 31 major women’s doubles titles and 10 major mixed doubles titles, hence why she’s considered by some to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time.

But Navratilova is also a committed advocate for LGBT rights, which is why she’s set to be the subject of a documentary produced by Reese Witherspoon and her Hello Sunshine production company.

Witherspoon, who founded the production company in 2016 with the aim of promoting female stories, will count the documentary about Navratilova as her first feature film, according to Deadline.com.

Teaming up with journalists, Glenn Greenwald and Suzanne Gilbert, the documentary will shine a spotlight on Navratilova’s achievements on and off the court.

“As monumental as Martina’s on-court achievements were, they pale in comparison to her role as a pioneer and trailblazer on questions of feminism, women’s athletics, equality for gay and lesbians across the planet, transgender visibility, immigrant rights and the right of political dissent,” said Greenwald.

“I’m excited to be partnering with Reese and Hello Sunshine to explore her truly enduring legacy – her remarkable courage – directly or indirectly inspiring millions of people who lacked any other role models.”

The film will also feature materials and memories shared by fans all across the world.

“The issues raised by Martina’s legacy resonate now more than ever, which is why it’s so important to tell her story to new generations of engaged young people who may not be aware of the vital role she played in shaping expectations around female identity and LGBT equality,” Charlotte Koh, Head of Digital Media & Programming for Hello Sunshine said in a statement.

“Having producers Glenn and Suzanne reframe Martina’s impact on society through the lens of Glenn’s personal coming-of-age journey creates a fresh, intimate and relatable film for a wide audience,” Koh added.

Earlier this year, Navratilova accused the BBC of a gender pay discrepancy at Wimbledon.

The great tennis player and commentator said she was “shocked” to discover that her male counterpart, tennis champion John McEnroe, was being paid 10 times more than her after a list detailing the salaries of the top-paid BBC talent was released last summer.

Navratilova, who spoke in detail about the gender pay gap at the BBC on the TV programme, Panorama: Britain’s Equal Pay Scandal (aired in full on Monday 19 March), accused the BBC of valuing male voices more than female voices.

“It was a shock because John McEnroe makes at least £150,000… I get about £15,000 for Wimbledon and unless John McEnroe’s doing a whole bunch of stuff outside of Wimbledon he’s getting at least 10 times as much money,” Navratilova says.

However, Navratilova alleges that she was assured by the BBC that she was being paid a comparable amount to the male commentators.

“We were not told the truth, that’s for sure,” says Navratilova. “(I’m) not happy… It’s shocking… It’s still the good old boys network.”

BBC Sport told the programme that McEnroe’s role was of “a different scale, scope and time commitment” to Navratilova, adding: “They are simply not comparable”. The programme claims McEnroe appeared 30 times for the BBC at Wimbledon last year, compared with Navratilova’s 10 appearances.

You can read more on the gender pay gap here.

Images: Getty