Netflix’s ‘Drive To Survive’-Style Tennis Docuseries Is Coming Soon

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Similar to how ESPN’s The Last Dance sparked a renewed interest in the athletic legends of yesteryear, Netflix has effectively established a blueprint for the all-access sporting documentary format with Formula 1: Drive To Survive – spawning an upcoming series about the PGA Tour, and now, a separate series focused on the world of professional tennis.

Teaming up with all the four Grand Slam tournaments – Australian Open, Roland-Garros (French Open), Wimbledon, US Open – as well as the ATP Tour, WTA Tour, and ATP Media, cameras are scheduled to begin rolling this month, capturing the start of the 2022 season at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena. Which means we can definitely expect the debacle surrounding world No.1 player Novak Djokovic, his vaccination status, and cancelled visa to be a core subject of the earlier episodes.

And who better to offer the public an “unfiltered” and “unique immersive” look at the elite tennis scene than the very folks responsible for introducing Formula 1 to an uninitiated audience of millions via Netflix documentary series? We are, of course, speaking about Box To Box Films – the geniuses behind both Drive To Survive – with the production company’s James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin signed on to serve as Executive Producers.

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Gay-Rees – an award-winning veteran of producing docos – has previously been involved with everything from Exit Through The Gift Shop, Senna, Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, to Amy and Oasis: Supersonic. Side note: if you ever have a quiet weekend arvo, each film is well worth your time. Martin, on the other hand, has collaborated with Gay-Rees on the likes of Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, and Make Us Dream.

“We are excited to continue bolstering our lineup of sports programming with this behind-the-scenes documentary series,” says Brandon Riegg, Netflix Vice President of Unscripted & Documentary Series.

“Tennis is beloved all over the world, with high-stakes tournaments hopping across continents and athletes hailing from countless countries.”

“Through this historic partnership with the four Grand Slam tournaments, the ATP Tour, WTA Tour, and ATP Media, the series will be packed with rare access and rich personal stories that are sure to draw in longtime fans and new audiences alike.” 

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As previously mentioned, this isn’t the only Drive To Survive-style project on the old Netflix burner. In mid-2021, it was announced the streaming giant had struck an unprecedented deal with the PGA Tour for its own episodic documentary series, complete with “behind-the-scenes access” like never before, featuring the world’s best golfers as they embark upon the 2021-22 season, and – yes – also involving Box To Box Films.

Last week, 22 names committed to being in the star-studded cast were announced – in addition to the world’s #1 ranked amateur, Keita Nakajima. Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Abraham Ancer
  • Daniel Berger
  • Cameron Champ
  • Joel Dahmen
  • Tony Finau
  • Matthew Fitzpatrick
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Harry Higgs
  • Max Homa
  • Viktor Hovland
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Brooks Koepka
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Kevin Na
  • Mito Pereira
  • Ian Poulter
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Jordan Spieth
  • Justin Thomas
  • Bubba Watson

RELATED: Can We Just Appreciate How Epic ‘Drive To Survive’ Season 4 Is Going To Be?

Granted, certain heavyweight names such as Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy are obviously missing (as well as every Aussie pro), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be featured in the show. It simply means they’ve opted out of active participation.

“It’s not like golf has a union that negotiates on behalf of players,” reveals one unnamed source.

“So you go through the process of getting buy-in from each player and their team individually. That takes time.”

Sources reveal cameras quietly began rolling back in early December of 2021, parallel to a small 20-player invitation in the Bahamas known as the Hero World Challenge; where Tiger Woods himself made his long-awaited return after a near-fatal car accident.

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“More than a half-dozen pros sat for their first interviews that week,” writes Golf.

“Others consulted their agents, spoke with show producers and considered and reconsidered their participation in a show that hopes to introduce professional golf to an entirely new audience.”

Currently, an official release date for the untitled Netflix tennis documentary series has yet to be confirmed. Given how filming is currently underway at the 2022 Australian Open – and what we know about Drive To Survive‘s own release model – it’d be safe to assume we’ll be queuing up the first episode in the weeks preceding the 2023 season.

Keep an eye out here for the details as they come.