The producers of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries introduce a summer spinoff exploring captivating stories of women in sports as told by female filmmakers. Nine for IX — named after Title IX, the 1972 legislation best known for providing equal opportunities for females in high-school and college athletics — begins with “Venus Vs.” (July 2, 8pm ET, ESPN), a look at how tennis star Venus Williams lobbied to end the practice of unequal prize money for female players at Wimbledon and the French Open. The series is executive produced by Robin Roberts and Jane Rosenthal in conjunction with ESPN Films and espnW.
Films in the series are:
Venus Vs. (July 2) Venus Williams’ impact on the tennis court is well known, but she also played a key role in changing the sport’s culture. Beginning in 2005, Williams lobbied European organizations to end the practice of unequal prize money for women at Wimbledon and the French Open.
Pat XO (July 9) Pat Summitt resigned as the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach in 2012, due in large part to her early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Pat XO gives the camera to the people who know Summitt best — including her son, Tyler — for a raw, authentic and moving look at the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.
Let Them Wear Towels (July 16) When a group of New England Patriots players harassed reporter Lisa Olson in 1990, the debate about female journalists in male athletes’ locker rooms and clubhouses came to the forefront. Through interviews with pioneering female journalists, Let Them Wear Towels examines equal access and how the issue has evolved.
No Limits (July 23) Audrey Mestre set a women’s world record in 2001 by free-diving to a depth of 427 feet. While attempting a dive of more than 550 feet in 2002, an equipment failure under mysterious circumstances led to her death.
Swoopes (July 30) Sheryl Swoopes was an ambassador of women’s basketball, labeled by many as the female Michael Jordan. Her accomplishments include an NCAA championship, four WNBA championships, three WNBA MVP awards and three Olympic gold medals. But her life off the court was even more fascinating.
Future episodes are:
The Diplomat (Aug. 6) The story of East German Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt as “the most beautiful face of socialism” during the Cold War.
Runner (Aug. 13) Mary Decker was a world-class distance runner favored to win gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics. But a controversial collision with another runner dashed her dreams.
The ’99ers (Aug. 20) Behind-the-scenes footage shot by the players tells the inside story of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s win in the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
Branded (Aug. 27) An examination of female sports stars’ sex appeal in relation to their athletic achievements.