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SBD/Issue 46/Sports Media
Net Gains: New Documentary Profiles Russian Tennis Success
Published November 16, 2004
|Filmmakers Examine "Russian
Revolution" In Womens' Tennis
Phil Johnston and Peter Geisler’s new 43-minute documentary, tentatively titled “Anna’s Army: Behind The Rise of Russian Women’s Tennis,” chronicles the success of Russian female players and “probes much deeper than the usual cultural examinations of the ‘Russian Revolution,’” according to SI’s Jon Wertheim. With the WTA’s help, Johnston and Geisler “interviewed every player of significance,” including Anna Kournikova, who “granted them a lengthy sit-down.” While Maria Sharapova did not “want to be featured alongside the other Russians,” Johnston and Geisler “ambushed Sharapova’s postmatch news conference at [the Ladies German Open] and asked enough questions to get their sound bites.” A “number of networks have expressed interest in buying the rights to the film,” but Johnston has no deal in place yet. Johnston toured Moscow’s Spartak Club, “seeking old coaches, administrators and tennis journalists for interviews” during 18 months of filming. But Wertheim wrote the “real winners are in the old footage Johnston was able to procure [including] a snippet of grainy home video” that shows Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Dinara Safina taking a group lesson together as five-year-olds (SI.com, 11/12).