As the sun sets on another thrilling Wimbledon Championship, we find ourselves reminiscing about the riveting showdowns and unforgettable moments that have graced the hallowed grass courts of the All England Club. Tennis, with its unique blend of athleticism, strategy, and drama, has long been a rich source of inspiration for the silver screen. In honour of this, we’ve set out to compile a list of the top 10 movies ever made about tennis and the prestigious Wimbledon championship.
From seventies cinema to the high-definition blockbusters of today, these films capture the essence of the sport and the indomitable spirit of its champions. Whether you’re a die-hard tennis fan or a casual moviegoer, these films serve up a compelling mix of passion, rivalry, triumph, and heartache.
So, grab your popcorn and get ready to embark on a cinematic journey through the world of professional tennis. From intimate character studies and compelling documentaries to high-stakes biopics, these are the movies that have truly aced their portrayal of the game and its greatest stage, Wimbledon.
1. Wimbledon (2004)
Let’s delve into the charming world of the movie Wimbledon. Released in 2004, this romantic comedy is directed by Richard Loncraine and stars Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst.
In the film, Bettany portrays Peter Colt, a journeyman tennis pro who was once ranked 11th but has seen his career decline. On the other hand, Dunst plays the role of Lizzie Bradbury, a fiery young player on the rise. The movie spins an enchanting tale where these two characters cross paths during Wimbledon, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments, leading to an unlikely romance.
Now, here’s what makes this movie so engaging: The chemistry between Bettany and Dunst is undeniable, lending authenticity and depth to their on-screen relationship. The narrative captures the thrilling spirit of competitive sports while intertwining it with the sweet unpredictability of love.
Despite having a sports backdrop, at its core, Wimbledon is a romantic comedy. It’s about a fading tennis pro who recaptures his glory not just through his game but also through love.
More than just a rom-com, Wimbledon is also a story of perseverance and self-belief. When Peter Colt draws a wild-card slot at Wimbledon, he decides it will be his last hurrah on the court. But destiny has other plans, making for an inspiring watch!
2. King Richard (2021)
King Richard is a biographical sports drama film released in 2021. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, the film stars Will Smith in the titular role of Richard Williams, the father of renowned tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams.
The movie provides an in-depth look at how Richard, with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, was determined to write his daughters into history. The narrative follows Richard’s journey, highlighting his unwavering belief in his daughters’ talent and his relentless efforts to guide them towards tennis superstardom.
Will Smith’s portrayal of Richard Williams earned him wide acclaim, contributing to the film’s overall positive reception. Critics appreciated the movie for its inspiring storytelling, engaging performances, and authentic depiction of the Williams family’s history.
Although it is not a Wimbledon movie, King Richard subtly and perfectly sheds light on the prestigious status Wimbledon holds as the ultimate honour a professional tennis player can realise.
3. Borg vs McEnroe (2017)
Borg vs McEnroe is a critically acclaimed drama film that meticulously recreates the intense rivalry between two legendary tennis players, Björn Borg and John McEnroe. The movie, directed by Janus Metz and starring Sverrir Gudnason as Borg and Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe, primarily focuses on their gruelling showdown at the 1980 Wimbledon Championships.
The film does an exceptional job of portraying the contrasting personalities of its central characters, Borg, the cool-headed champ from Sweden, and McEnroe, known for his explosive temperament. It’s not only about tennis shots but also offers a lot of backstory, thus providing a comprehensive view of the protagonists’ lives.
Despite some controversy regarding its accuracy, the film has been praised for its compelling narrative, strong performances, and the stunning resemblance between Gudnason and Borg.
4. Battle of the Sexes (2017)
Get ready to be enthralled by the captivating film Battle of the Sexes, which takes you back to the historic 1973 tennis match that shook the world. In this must-watch movie, follow the journey of world number one ex-Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King as she faces off against the charismatic and cunning hustler Bobby Riggs.
Starring the talented Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and the hilarious Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs, the film skillfully captures the intensity of the game and the underlying societal currents of the time. From exhilarating tennis action to thought-provoking social commentary, Battle of the Sexes delivers a truly immersive cinematic experience that will leave you craving for more. Get ready to relive a piece of history and be transported into the world of fierce competition, passion, and triumph!
As of today, Battle of the Sexes is available to buy or rent on various VOD platforms such as Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Vudu, Microsoft Store, DIRECTV, and AMC on Demand.
5. 7 Days in Hell (2015)
7 Days in Hell is a sports mockumentary that takes an irreverent look at the world of professional tennis by focusing on a fictional match that lasted seven days. This hilarious film, directed by Jake Szymanski and written by Murray Miller, stars Andy Samberg and Kit Harington as two tennis rivals, Aaron Williams and Charles Poole.
The movie premiered on HBO on 11 July 2015, and it’s available for streaming on platforms such as HBO.com, Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu. The film’s plot is inspired by the real-life Wimbledon 2010 tournament match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which has gone down in history as the longest tennis match ever, lasting three days with a total of 183 games.
Despite its comedic tone, 7 Days in Hell offers an engaging portrayal of the intensity and pressure of professional tennis matches, particularly those at Wimbledon. It’s been praised for its unpredictable humour and crassness, making it a fun watch for both sports fans and comedy lovers.
6. Players (1979)
Players is a romance drama film that was released in 1979. Directed by Anthony Harvey, the movie features Ali MacGraw and Dean Paul Martin in the lead roles. The plot revolves around a young, rising tennis star, Chris (played by Dean Paul Martin), who falls for an older woman Nicole (played by Ali MacGraw), Who is involved with a wealthy man but isn’t in love with him. This is while playing in one of the world’s biggest tennis championships, the one and only Wimbledon.
The movie showcases Chris’s journey in professional tennis as he navigates his romantic feelings for Nicole. The film poses the question: Will Chris become the next John McEnroe? And, will Nicole choose love over financial security?
Players features top-flight tennis rallies. It explores themes of love, ambition, and the personal sacrifices made by athletes. This film is a must-watch for tennis enthusiasts and those who appreciate a good romantic drama.
7. Der Rebell – Von Leimen nach Wimbledon (2021)
Der Rebell – Von Leimen nach Wimbledon is a compelling biopic that chronicles the life of Boris Becker, who made history by becoming the youngest man to win Wimbledon at the age of 17. The TV movie was released in 2021 and was directed by the Finnish director Hannu Salonen, who resides in Germany.
The film tells the story of Günther Bosch, a tennis coach who discovers the talented but capricious boy Boris Becker. Alongside eccentric manager Ion Tiriac, Bosch moulds Becker into the youngest Wimbledon champion ever. The film not only focuses on Becker’s professional achievements but also delves into his personal life, making for an engaging watch.
The movie features a talented cast and crew who bring the dynamic world of tennis and Becker’s journey to life. The film was released on 16 December 2021 and has a runtime of 100 minutes.
This movie is a must-watch for tennis enthusiasts and those interested in the personal and professional journey of one of the sport’s youngest champions.
8. Strokes of Genius (2018)
Strokes of Genius is a riveting documentary that delves into the fierce rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Released in 2018, the film specifically focuses on their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship match, widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis matches ever played.
The film intertwines Federer and Nadal’s lives, both on and off the court, providing viewers with an intimate look into their journeys. It explores how these two athletes have pushed each other to extraordinary heights over their careers, culminating in that historic Wimbledon final.
Directed by Andrew Douglas, Strokes of Genius is a must-watch for tennis enthusiasts and sports fans of all kinds. It not only delves into the intensity of professional tennis but also the personal sacrifices and mental toughness required to compete at the highest level.
9. Citizen Ashe (2021)
Citizen Ashe is a captivating American-British documentary film that was released in 2021. Directed by Rex Miller and Sam Pollard, the film explores the life and career of the legendary tennis player Arthur Ashe.
The film delves into Ashe’s enduring legacy as a tennis great and humanitarian. It traces his personal evolution from a sports legend to an advocate for human rights and public health.
Citizen Ashe offers a profound look at Ashe’s activism, particularly his campaign against apartheid in South Africa and his work in AIDS awareness after contracting the disease from a blood transfusion. He eventually succumbed to the disease on February 6, 1993.
The documentary provides a deeper understanding of sports and their potential influence on responses to injustice. It has been warmly received by critics, with The New York Times describing it as a “sympathetic documentary portrait” that traces the career of the tennis champion who “smashed through history”.
10. Venus and Serena (2012)
Venus and Serena is a compelling 2012 documentary film that offers an unprecedented look into the private world of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. Directed by Maiken Baird and Michelle Major, the film takes an inside look at the lives and careers of these iconic sisters.
The film touches on a variety of subjects and controversial moments in the Williams sisters’ careers, shedding light on their battles with disabling injuries and illnesses. It’s a testament to their resilience and determination as they navigate the challenges of professional tennis while maintaining a strong sisterly bond.
The documentary is rated PG-13 for some strong language and is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, fuboTV, Hoopla, or for free with ads on Peacock, Peacock Premium, VUDU Free, Tubi TV, Redbox, Crackle, and Pluto TV.
The world of tennis has proven to be fertile ground for filmmakers, offering a compelling blend of high-stakes competition, personal drama, and the opportunity to explore broader societal themes. From biographical dramas to tension-filled documentaries, these are truly some of the best movies made about tennis and Wimbledon to have graced the silver screen.