No two athletes have met in as many matches or world championships as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Over the course of 16 years, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova faced each other over tennis nets around the world 80 times. From 1975 through 1986, they not only dominated women’s tennis, they were women’s tennis. Eighty matches later, we are able to see how two fierce competitors who provided fans with some of the most memorable moments in the history of tennis could simultaneously forge such a strong and lasting friendship, bonding them to this day. “Unmatched” tells the story about the rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, a rivalry that drove worldwide interest in women’s tennis to one of its greatest peaks.
Director and Producer Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters have had a history of experience and background before picking up this installment of ESPN’s 30 for 30. After twelve years of producing and directing for NBC Sports and the Olympics, director and producer Lisa Lax is one of the most respected production talents in the business. Nancy Stern Winters has a vast expertise in producing live events, network television specials and scripted dramas. Her credits are notable for their variety, quantity and quality in sports, entertainment and news.
Unlike the other installments of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, Lax and Winters had their own idea and approach when they went about this film; to capture the story from a first hand account rather than having a narrator tell the story. The film follows a dramatic arc, and although the history of events are in chronological order, there are cuts to present day scenes and interviews between the past scenes and events. If you think about it, this editing style can possibly confuse audience members but the editors were smart for choosing it because it worked. It didn’t confuse me, it made me more engaged and want to keep watching. Have you ever watching something and have questions during a scene or after a scene. What I really like about this type of edit is that every time there’s a past scene, they would follow up with a present day interview or scene or both, so the audience had no questions and weren’t left to wonder or guess at the end of the film.
As an audience member, it does certainly give me a different perspective of viewing and appreciating the film. I felt more connected to Evert and Navratilova’s story because the filmmakers made it interesting. The best moments in the film were the scenes were the two friends talked about their memories and brought up opinions and feelings that they had towards one another (then and now). It’s almost like you can feel their energy and excitement through the screen; it’s the first time they’ve spoke about the rivalry and some new feelings and opinions were expressed- it feels like I was reliving the experience with them. This film’s editing style is different from the other ESPN 30 for 30 installments for the simple fact that the story is told through the athletes’ eyes. Their story was pure but intimidating. It made me understand and appreciate the intense rivalry on a professional level and their enduring friendship on a personal level.