ESPN Films: Renee
"Renee" tells the story of Renee Richards' battle to enter the 1977 U.S. Open as the first transgender tennis player. Simultaneously, it follows her today as she struggles to cope with a life of contradictions and personal conflict. Through interviews with tennis legends, family, friends and experts from the transgender field, a story of perseverance, breakthrough and hardship unfolds.
MEET THE DIRECTOR
Eric Drath is a former journalist who was born and raised in New York City. He earned his B.A. in political science from Columbia University, where he anchored a news show on WKCR-FM. He started his professional career at ABC News during the first Persian Gulf War. Drath went on to be a producer at CNN, CNN International and finally, at the Fox News Channel, which he helped launch in 1997. At Fox, he produced stories internationally and covered the Pentagon. In 2000, Drath left the news business and became an agent in the sport of boxing. He wound up representing more than 40 world-class fighters and was responsible for his boxers competing in dozens of world title bouts. Drath's passion for the fight game led to his creation of RingLink, the first satellite-linked feed service for boxing news and highlights. RingLink was the conduit to what is today known as Live Star Entertainment. Located on Park Avenue in New York City, Live Star is a full-service production company specializing in both live television production and documentary films.
Recently, Drath wrote, directed and produced "Assault In The Ring," a Live Star production picked up for broadcast by HBO Sports. The IFP-featured movie won the 2009 Emmy for Most Outstanding Documentary.
Drath lives on New York City's Upper West Side with his wife and two children.
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"Renee," airs Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
I remember hearing as a little boy that Renée Richards was playing in the U.S. Open. My parents were tennis fans, and we lived in New York, so the Open was a big deal. What made it stranger was that just four years earlier, my sister had gone to see Dr. Richard Raskind for an eye problem. Now, somehow that same person was strutting onto the main court of the U.S. Open in a skirt as a woman named Renée Richards.
However strange the incident appeared, my parents spoke in hushed voices about it, and the subject quickly disappeared from our family's dinner table conversation. But I never forgot about it, and, from time to time, I would wonder about Renée Richards. Why did Dr. Raskind become a woman? How did they let Renée play tennis? And what happened to her after she disappeared from everyone's dinner table conversations?
When I started to research Renée's life further, I found out she had a son who is almost the same age as myself. "Wow," I thought again. Having a father who had a sex change, and then played tennis on the main court of the U.S. Open. What was that like? So began my journey into this story. I got in touch with Renée, and she agreed to let me into her remarkable life. -- Eric Drath
- • Renee
-- ESPN2: 10:30 p.m.
- • Renee
-- ESPN Classic: 1:45 a.m., 5 p.m.