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Just in time to satiate tennis fans after the finish of the U.S Open, a new ESPN documentary about the legendary rivalry between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert is set to premiere Tuesday night on ESPN.
Unmatched, from filmmakers Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters and producer Hannah Storm, focuses on the relationship of seeming opposites who captivated the world during the golden age of women's tennis in the 1970s and '80s, when Navratilova and Evert played each other 80 times. "Chrissie" was portrayed as America's sweetheart, whereas "Navrat the Brat," who defected from her native Czechoslovakia in 1975, was often portrayed as a villain. Sportswriter Johnette Howard also chronicled the unlikely relationship in her 2005 book The Rivals: Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship.
"Unmatched, a documentary on ESPN as part of its ongoing anniversary 30 for 30 series, is a lovely and remarkable little film," writes the Los Angeles Times. "Television specials chronicling the extraordinary feats of top athletes are a dime a dozen, but it is nearly impossible to find two other groundbreaking athletes who went head to head so many times and with equal amounts of ruthlessness and empathy."
The hour-long documentary situates the two tennis legends in the context of a women's weekend getaway, where they reminisce on topics including Evert's support for Navratilova after she came out in 1981.The New York Times sportswriter George Vecsey, who cowrote Navratilova's autobiography in 1985, took note of Evert's stance as an ally in an article last month.
"Some of the revelations are touching. Navratilova looks at Evert and recalls that as she came to grips with her sexuality, Evert was, in her words, gay-friendly. Navratilova thanks her," he wrote.
Watch the Unmatched preview from ESPN.