With the 2018 tennis season in full swing and the recent digital HD release of “Battle of the Sexes”, we decided to find out how many films have been made about the sport of tennis.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been that many. In fact, there have been only 10 full-length non-documentary tennis films made since the invention of the fuzzy yellow ball.
There are, however, 2 films just released – both major motion pictures about the true-life events surrounding 2 of the most infamous matches in history.
Borg vs. McEnroe (2017)
The most recent film based on real-life tennis events revolves around the 1980 Wimbledon final match between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe played by Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBbeouf, respectively.
Sports, Drama, Biography
NR, 107 min.
Director: Janus Metz
Writer: Ronnie Sandahl
Cast: Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Battle of the Sexes (2017)
Steve Carell and Emma Stone star in a film that recounts the true events surrounding the infamous tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King from 1973 which was famously dubbed as “The Battle of the Sexes.”
Sports, Drama, Biography
PG-13, 121 min.
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Simon Beaufoy
Cast: Emma Stone, Steve Carell
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
More Films Based on Tennis
7 Days in Hell (2015)
This was the most recent tennis-focused film, except that it wasn’t really a film, but rather a 43-minute HBO-created fictional documentary about 2 players who endure a grueling match over the course of 7 days.
Pure over-the-top hilarity starring Andy Samberg and Kit Harington.
Break Point (2014)
This was a surprisingly good picture about two estranged brothers who reunite to make a run for the double’s championship at a grand slam tournament.
Funny, smart, and the actors actually look like they can play tennis.
Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach (2009)
A comedy that almost wants to be a drama – about a failed tennis pro, now a high-school janitor (Sean William Scott), who leads a group of misfits to the state championships.
Match Point (2005)
Although the main character in this movie is a tennis instructor, there’s no real connection to the sport. It is, however, still a very good drama/romance/thriller starring a couple of Hollywood’s rising stars at the time in Scarlett Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
The plot concerns a former tennis pro who entangles himself in a love triangle by falling for his friend’s fiance whose sister has fallen for him.
The film received extremely high praise, but unfortunately, it was also a disappointment at the box-office and failed to garner much attention from mainstream audiences.
This is the first and only big-budget Hollywood film centered around the sport of tennis. Named after the most prestigious grand slam tournament, it tells the story of a pro tennis player who has lost his passion for the game and the girl who inspires him to get it back.
Starring in the film are several popular actors led by Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany. Also providing cameos are tennis legends John McEnroe and Chris Evert who play commentators, as they do in real life.
The film received mostly good reviews from critics and audiences, but failed to impress at the box office grossing only $17M.
The Break (1995)
A decade later comes the first fictional tennis movie that’s not a comedy. The plot is centered around a disgraced tennis pro who takes a job as the coach of an amateur player with high aspirations.
With Vincent Van Patten and Martin Sheen.
A silly sports comedy about a high-school tennis coach trying to get his misfit players in shape for a tournament. Not really about tennis, but rather a ridiculous comedy that has some tennis in it.
The most interesting thing about this movie is that it was only the 3rd acting credit for Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order SVU fame.
Spring Fever (1982)
Going back 35 years, this comedy with a bizarrely misleading movie poster that appears to advertise a slapstick sex comedy or perhaps a movie about scuba diving, is actually a story about a promising young tennis player who must deal with hostility and criticism because her mother is a Las Vegas showgirl.
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The dramatic romance about a rising tennis player who falls for an older woman while playing at Wimbledon.
With Ali MacGraw, Dean Paul Martin, and an appearance by John McEnroe who at the time was only 20 years old and already the No. 3 player in the world.