Netflix mixes up Fort Worth with Dallas in pivotal episode of tennis series Break Point
The final five episodes in season one of Break Point, Netflix’s docuseries about professional tennis stars, dropped on Wednesday, June 21.
Local tennis fans who attended the thrilling Women’s Tennis Association Finals at Dickies Arena last fall will want to fast-forward to the season finale, titled “One Last Chance." The pivotal episode follows Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka through WTA Finals week in Fort Worth.
That is, the Fort Worth that Hollywood pictures as Dallas. Yep, Netflix is the latest to serve up an onscreen FW-D switcheroo, and more than once.
The episode starts where many Fort Worth-set TV shows do: In the Stockyards. It opens with close-ups of Hotel Drover, where the top eight women players in the world are glamming up for the pre-tournament gala, photo shoot, and red-carpet interviews.
After four minutes of build-up about how important the season-culminating tournament is and how volatile Sabalenka’s season has been, we arrive at the WTA Finals with a sweeping pan of the camera over downtown … Dallas.
Wait, is that Reunion Tower passing behind the words “Fort Worth, Texas” on the screen?
Back in the Stockyards for some pre-match fun, Sabalenka and player Maria Sakkari do that Fort Worth-tourist thing where they watch the Herd mosey down Exchange Avenue, toward the John Wayne museum and the White Elephant Saloon. “I’d go for a ride,” Sabalenka jokes in Russian.
Day 1 of WTA Finals finally dawns, and we’re outside Dickies Arena. Voiceover from a TV announcer with an Australian accent: “Welcome to the WTA Finals. Only the top eight players in the world are here in Dallas…”
What in the name of video editing is going on here? Of all the broadcasts and commentators that covered the event, we’re hearing one welcome us to Dallas?
We settle into the arena and watch Sabalenka win her first-round match against Ons Jabeur, then defeat Jessica Pegula to reach the semifinals.
Let’s go inside Sabalenka’s hotel room to chat about how she prepares for the big match against top-ranked Iga Swiatek. Another gorgeous camera pan over downtown … Dallas.
Is she staying in Dallas? This journey past the historic Sheraton Dallas Hotel is confusing.
At least each time we're inside Dickies Arena, we see “Fort Worth” emblazoned on the baselines. Inside the arena, at least, we know where we are.
To be fair, it is a compelling episode (which also follows American Taylor Fritz through the ATP men's finals in Turin, Italy).
Caroline Garcia is showered in confetti in Dickies Arena after winning the 2022 WTA Finals. Getty Images
Fort Worth spectators will remember the roars of disbelief when Sabalenka upset the seemingly unbeatable Swiatek in the semifinals but ultimately lost the trophy to Caroline Garcia. Through tears, Sabalenka said on court after her loss, "The atmosphere was unbelievable. I mean, I, to be honest, I didn't expect that much support for me here, and people support me a lot here, and I really enjoyed every second playing. It was, atmosphere was unbelievable. Really."
Fans then may not have known of Sabalenka’s personal stress about her country’s involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine. The show empathizes with her inner turmoil and heartbreak over a geopolitical situation that's making people hate her. Yet, to "speak out" with much more than a tennis dress in the colors of the Ukraine flag could cost her freedom back home in Belarus.
In that larger context, the Fort Worth-Dallas mixups are minor unforced errors. Few viewers will notice them, except, of course, for Fort Worthians who are used to cringing at Hollywood’s confusion about the fact that a place called “Cowtown” can have tall buildings, too.
It was a coup for Fort Worth, not Dallas, to snag the 2022 WTA Finals - an invitation that came on short notice after the tournament was moved from Shenzhen, China. This was the first time the contest had been staged in North Texas, and the first time it was in the United States since 2005.
So it’s a big bummer that, even in hosting the crown jewel of a major professional sports season, Fort Worth gets robbed of its full time to shine on screen.
Maybe season two will pick up where season one left off - in Fort Worth.
To echo Sabalenka’s hopeful words in the final scene, “Next season is going to be my year, guys."