Monday, December 11, 2023

‘Backhand blow’: Movistar Plus+ addresses sexual abuse in tennis

Still with the hangover of the ‘Rubiales case’, which has generated so much debate this summer, Movistar Plus+ is now available ‘Backhand blow’, a British series about the abuse of power in the world of sports. Specifically, in the elite tennis. The fiction raises a question from the first moment: does the coach accused of sexual abuse Is he a victim of injustice or is he a predator who took advantage of his position?

Created and written by Hania Elkington (‘The Essex Serpent’, ‘The Innocents’) and with the producers of the renowned ‘Line of duty’ behind, it has Aidan Turner (‘Poldark’, ‘Leonardo’) and Ella Lily Hyland (‘Intruder’) in the main roles.

Accused of sexual abuse

“The idea of ​​this relationship between a coach and a player came to mind when I was thinking about an article about a young woman who, over time, gains perspective on the relationships she has had in the past,” explains Elkington, who grew up in southwest London, so tennis and Wimbledon have always been part of his life.

The story begins with Justine (Hyland) at 17 years old, playing in the Roland Garros semifinals under the strong direction of his Coach, Glenn (Turner). But his promising career was cut short by injury. Five years later he works as physiotherapist in the same club where she took her first steps and, when he wins an important tournament with his new pupil, an Italian loose cannon, the young woman appears before the police claiming that her former coach abused her in the past.

“There is a perspective to the plot that we don’t always see and a ambiguity In the first part of the series I really liked it. In the first few episodes we don’t get much information about what happened. Then we get key information, but even after that we don’t know the full story until the end. As a TV viewer, I love sitting at home trying to figure out who is telling the truth here. Both Glenn and Justine, the girl who accuses him, seem trustworthy,” says Turner, who is also a tennis fan and that is why he enjoyed preparing this role so much.


“As a coach, I don’t play any matches, but I have to do the right moves. And part of the training was meeting Ella (Co-star Ella Lily Hyland). We played a lot of tennis together and it was fun,” says the actor, who He documented it by reading books about this sport and watching videos. “There is a great book of Patrick Mouratoglou called ‘The Coach’ and ‘Open: memoirs’ by Andrew Agassi It’s also very good. And there were many interesting videos on YouTube of coaches,” highlights the interpreter, who enjoyed the ambiguity of his character.

Ella Lily Hyland, in the series ‘Backhand’ MOVISTAR PLUS+

“For me it was important to try to build the character in my head so as not to make it creepy or unreliable. And Ella did the same so as not to make hers a victim. We wanted the audience to doubt having two believable characters,” he emphasizes.

Because precisely what stands out about Glenn is that no one, at first glance, would see him as a predator. “He is a person charming and charismatic, kind and understanding, who spends a lot of time alone with young players. He has a lot of talent as a coach. It was important to me to play someone who made you say, “I like this guy, I’d like him to train me or my daughter.” So if he has abused Justine, that would make him really dangerous, right? Because there would have been no warning signs. When Justine makes her accusations, her friends, family, and colleagues do not believe her. “Could she be bitter because Glenn is having success with a new player and there are things that happened between them that may have left her feeling hurt or wanting revenge?”

Furthermore, Glenn is a happily married man and very Popular with young players. “That is addictive for him. That feeling of being needed is something you may not get from your peers. It’s easier to get it from younger players who really need it. For young players, Glenn is their passport to their professional career, so he knows how much some of these younger players need him. Being so popular has put him in situations that he could take advantage of, that would allow him to manipulate people if he wanted to,” he concludes.


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