ESPN Sets Serena Williams Docuseries

Serena Williams
(Image credit: ESPN)

ESPN will develop a new series based on the life and career of legendary tennis star Serena Williams, the network announced Tuesday at its upfront presentation.

The multi-part In The Arena: Serena Williams series will chronicle Williams’ on the court success, winning 23 Grand Slams titles over a more than two decade span, as well as her personal challenges and achievements. Williams appeared at the New York presentation to make the announcement. 

Following on the success of the network’s Man In the Arena: Tom Brady, The series will track Serena’s personal and generational journey from phenom to icon, re-examining decisive matches, formative moments, heartbreak and glory along the way, said network officials. 

In The Arena: Serena Williams will be co-produced by ESPN, Religion of Sports, Tom Brady’s 199 Productions, and Williams and Caroline Currier’s Nine Two Six Productions. 

ESPN also announced it will bring The Pat McAfee Show daily sports talk show to the network as part of a new multi-year agreement.

McAfee, who currently serves as a college football analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay, will bring his show – currently streaming on YouTube – live weekdays to ESPN, the ESPN YouTube Channel, the ESPN App and ESPNPlus beginning this fall, according to the network. 

“Pat is a proven talent … he and his team have built the Pat McAfee Show into one of the most engaging programs in sports and all of media,” ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement prior to the upfront. “ It’s a destination for athlete interviews and breaking news, and the centerpiece of a growing community of sports fans. We’re honored to bring Pat and the show to ESPN through a multifaceted, multiplatform approach.” 

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.