9 of the greatest films about tennis
Missed out on Wimbledon tickets? These iconic tennis films will indulge all your courtside curiosity.
The fancy outfits have been filling the ‘gram, the strawberries are on offer in the supermarkets, and the rivalries have been dominating the headlines, which can only mean one thing…
It’s officially Wimbledon season.
To pay homage to this most iconic of tennis tournaments, we’ve picked out the rallying rom coms, break point biopics and ace action flicks which serve up what we think is a list of the greatest tennis films of all time, (with a TV series thrown in for good measure, too).
So, get your strawberries and cream on the go and let’s make a night of it.
Apple TV, Sky Store and Amazon Prime
Pro tennis player Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is a guy in his 30s who’s lost his ambition and fallen down the world rankings. Admitting he’s getting too old to compete with the younger up-and-coming talent in the Men’s Singles competition, he intends to bow out after one final Wimbledon.
Lizzie Bradbury (Kirsten Dunst) is the rising star of women’s tennis. She’s got a ruthless attitude and the world at her feet, going into the Women’s Singles tournament as a hot favourite.
The unlikely pair soon find themselves head over heels for one another. But while Lizzie inspires Peter to recapture his focus on the court and rediscover his form, Peter isn’t such a positive influence on Lizzie’s game – prompting all-out war with her overprotective father (Sam Neill).
A classic courtside rom-com.
Amazon Prime and Disney+
This isn’t really one of the films about tennis, although the sport does play a role in the story.
Instead, Match Point is an intense psychological thriller about Irish player Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who finds himself struggling financially, even though he has recently retired from the world of tennis.
At a turning point in his life, the former tennis pro falls for an actress who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law.
Also starring Scarlett Johansson and Emily Mortimer, Match Point is written and directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of our time, Woody Allen – so you already know you’re in for some twists and turns.
Break Point (film)
This comedy follows two estranged brothers who reunite and decide to work together in order to be accepted to a grand slam tennis tournament.
Jimmy Price (Jeremy Sisto) find his days as a professional Doubles player are almost over. Despite his latest partner abandoning him, Jimmy stills finds himself unwilling to give up on his dream of reviving his days of glory on the court.
So, he asks his brother and former tennis pro Darren (Adam Devine) to partner him.
With the help of a strange 11-year-old named Barry, the brothers decide to try their hands at one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world…
The Royal Tenenbaums
This Wes Anderson gem isn’t directly one of the films about tennis, but it does have plenty of unforgettable tennis-related scenes.
In The Royal Tenenbaums, we follow an eccentric family of three grown, gifted prodigies. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), Chas (Ben Stiller), and Ritchie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) are all geniuses of some kind, but who are all distanced from each other, despite all living with their mother (Anjelica Huston).
Hilarity ensues and problems arise, however, when their father (Gene Hackman) decides to return after years of abandonment, determined to bring his family together again.
Battle of the Sexes
Disney+, Apple TV and Amazon Prime
The game of tennis has seen its fair share of rivalries between expectational players. But Battle of the Sexes brings to life one of the most watched matches ever: the legendary 1973 clash between women’s World Champion, Billie Jean King and ex-men’s champion, Bobby Riggs.
Expertly personified by Emma Stone and Steve Carrell respectively, the film dives into the pair’s famous rivalry on the court – which reached its climax in a match watched by a cool 90 million viewers across the world – and their battles off it, including King’s struggle to keep her sexuality under wraps and Riggs’ gambling addiction that threatened to tear his family apart.
Borg vs McEnroe
Apple TV, Disney+ and Sky Store
This biographical drama looks back at the 1980 Wimbledon Championship, telling the story between two of the biggest rivals in tennis history.
On one side, the cool, calm Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) and on the other, the passionate, outspoken John McEnroe (Shia Labeouf).
At the time, Borg was the number one ranked player in the world; a champion whose numerous trophies sent his trophy cabinet groaning under their weight. But the gifted, fresh-faced McEnroe proved the unlikely challenger who may just threatened his next number one title…
Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Sky Store and Now TV
In this multi-Oscar nominated tennis film, we follow the lives and careers of two of the most iconic tennis players of all time: Serena and Venus Williams. But we do so from the perspective of their father and coach, Richard (Will Smith).
Determined to make both of his daughters famous on the court, Richard guides the pair from unknown prodigies all the way to the top of the sport – from the neglected tennis courts of Compton to the most respected tournaments in the world.
An inspirational drama which, at its heart, is about two young sisters who were pushed to their limits by their father’s own commitment to a sport, is well worth a watch.
The Prince of Tennis – Match! Tennis Juniors
A hidden gem based on the popular manga series of the same name, this tennis film follows young prodigy Lu Xia, who has lived overseas with his parents since he was young.
He has inherited his former tennis pro father’s speed and strength but, living forever in his shadow, has lost his passion for the sport.
Upon returning to China, he joins a high school team and meets various tennis masters – each of whom show Lu the real meaning of tennis and how to figure out his own identity as a player.
As they try to win the national league together, Lu and his teammates learn to work as a group and beat the odds to excel on the court while juggling school, and begin to understand that what’s really important are your friendships.
Break Point (documentary)
This Netflix docu-drama gets up close and personal with a select group of pro tennis players on and off the court over the course of a year, as they complete in tournaments all over the world.
The collective dream of players like Nick Kyrgios, Ajla Tomljanovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas is to lift a trophy and become World Number One – but only one can achieve it.
Yet as some of tennis’ greatest legends reach the twilight of their careers, this new generation start getting their chance to claim the spotlight.
If you’re a die-hard tennis fan, you’re going to love it.
And an honourable mention goes to… Challengers
In cinemas from 15th September
This one isn’t released in cinemas until September, but since we’re talking all things tennis, we thought we’d include it in this list.
Challengers follows three pro tennis players, who have known each other since they were young, as they reignite old rivalries on and off the court.
Tashi (Zendaya) is a tennis player-turned-coach, who takes her husband, Art (Mike Faist) and transforms him from a mediocre player into a Grand Slam champion. In an attempt to get him out of a recent losing streak, she makes him play a Challenger event, where he find himself facing his former best friend – and Tashi’s old boyfriend – Patrick (Josh O Connor).
Tense, hilarious and simmering with sexual tension, we’re really looking forward to this tennis film.