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Celebrate 50 Years of Excellence in Women’s Sports in New Documentary Groundbreakers

WATERTOWN, NY (November 14, 2023) – In June 1972, the passage of Title IX, a small 37-word provision in the 1972 Education Amendments, guaranteed all people – regardless of gender – equal access to federally funded programs. This historic bill opened the floodgates for young girls to participate in sanctioned sports activities nationwide. Through the eyes of eight influential female athletes, learn how Title IX and their own achievements forever changed the course of sports history in a new two-hour documentary Groundbreakers, premiering Tuesday, November 21 at 8 pm on WPBS-TV, wpbstv.org and the PBS App. Groundbreakers is a production of Six West Media™, an A+E Factual Studios™ brand. 

Hosted by sports icon and equality champion Billie Jean King, the film weaves together the first-hand stories of eight sports legends as they discuss how their own struggles and achievements shaped their sport. The interviews pair an athlete at the top of her game today with an athlete whose achievements helped pave the way for those who followed. The pairings include Billie Jean King and flag football star Diana Flores; basketball legend Nancy Lieberman and Olympic gold snowboarder Chloe Kim; soccer star and World Cup winner Julie Foudy and Olympic gold gymnast Suni Lee; and track and field world-record holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee with four-time tennis Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka.

Tackling issues such as equitable pay and treatment, sexist policies and mental health, these far-reaching and dynamic conversations showcase the perseverance, pain, and progress of women who dared to challenge the system and defy conventional norms.

Groundbreakers celebrates the advancements of women in sports and society, while also revealing the generational mentorship and community building that has fueled the progress made alongside the ongoing pursuit of equality for women everywhere.

“Billie Jean King’s activism in women’s tennis sparked a fire across all women’s sports, paving the way for Title IX and more equitable contracts,” said Lesley Norman, executive producer for The WNET Group. “The legendary athletes featured in this film represent the incredible strides women have made in the past 50 years, while also reminding us that the fight continues.”

“We are pleased to partner with PBS, The WNET Group, and this amazing group of athletes on Groundbreakers,” said Sharon Scott, President, A+E Factual Studios. “Title IX and athletes like Billie Jean King changed the face of sports in the U.S., creating career opportunities, scholarship opportunities, and competitive pathways for women and girls. We are honored to tell their stories.”

“PBS is thrilled to present these incredible pairings of sports legends who come together to discuss the challenges faced and accomplishments made during their athletic careers,” said Zara Frankel, Senior Director of Programming & Development at PBS.  “We believe PBS audiences will embrace the stories of these trailblazing women who inspire new generations of athletes.”

In addition to the documentary, supplementary digital content, including director’s cuts of interview segments alongside additional highlights of iconic women in sports, will be posted on the PBS YouTube channel in November. See history making footage of Serena Williams’ 2003 Grand Slam, Florence Griffith Joyner’s world records in track-and-field, Simone Biles’ inspiring gymnastics legacy, and the memorable Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova tennis rivalry.

Groundbreakers is a production of Six West Media, an A+E Factual Studios brand, in association with The WNET Group. Billie Jean King is executive producer. Patty Ivins Specht is executive producer. Steve Ascher, Jessica Conway, Stephen Mintz and Kristy Sabat are executive producers for Six West Media. Zara Frankel is executive in charge for PBS. For The WNET Group: Benjamin Phelps is supervising producer; Lesley Norman is executive producer; Stephen Segaller is executive in charge.

Funding for Groundbreakers is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream initiative, and by public television viewers.

 

About The WNET Group

The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the nonprofit parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; and ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider. The WNET Group also operates NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network, and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. Community-supported, The WNET Group represents the best in public media. 

About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 42 million adults on linear primetime television, more than 15 million users on PBS-owned streaming platforms, and 56 million people view PBS content on social media, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature, and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS LearningMedia for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. As the number one educational media brand, PBS KIDS helps children 2-8 build critical skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality content on TV — including a PBS KIDS channel — and streaming free on pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Video app, games on the PBS KIDS Games app, and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, FacebookInstagram, or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.

About A+E Factual Studios

A division of A+E Networks, A+E Factual Studios, through its brands Category 6 Media and Six West Media, specializes in the development and production of premium, multiplatform unscripted series and specials for the A+E Networks portfolio and the global marketplace. A+E Factual Studios’ brands span a wide array of genres including true crime, lifestyle, history, biography, premium documentaries, limited series, quick turn specials, and podcasts. For more information, please visit https://www.aefactualstudios.com/.

About WPBS

WPBS is a PBS station serving approximately 650,000 households throughout Northern New York and Eastern Ontario via cable, satellite, Internet and over-the-air distribution. WPBS is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate, inform, and engage its two-nation region with exceptional and trusted content across multiple platforms. Its vision is to be the premier provider of extraordinary public media that instills wonder and curiosity across generations and borders. More information about WPBS, including a full channel listing, is available at wpbstv.org, or by following WPBS on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.