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The 10 best tennis movies, ranked

Tennis movies are some of our favorite sports movies

Will Smith in King Richard.
Warner Bros.

Tennis may not be for every sports fan, but the competitive appeal must feel relatable to most, if not all, people who engage in other games. Unlike team sports like football, where you can rely on others in the group, tennis requires mental stamina and physical conditioning that puts all of the pressure on the single individual. A tennis match is a battle of attrition and juxtapositions of personalities, a one-on-one affair that has made for some great thematic material in Hollywood.

While many of the best tennis movies are biographical or documentaries, they still get the blood flowing with epic tales of rivalries and historical drama. Non-tennis fans might still love the romance or sexual tension in other films on the list, while some movies are not even about tennis but use the sport as a backdrop or in key scenes of the film. These are the best tennis movies for every type of sports fan to enjoy!

10. Wimbledon (2004)

10. Wimbledon
98m
Genre
Comedy, Romance
Stars
Kirsten Dunst, Paul Bettany, Sam Neill
Directed by
Richard Loncraine
Watch on Amazon

Using the sport’s most famous location for its story, Wimbledon is a fun, spicy romantic comedy that uses tennis as a plot device for the love and affection between the two leads that drives the viewing interest. Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany have solid chemistry as two tennis players trying to overcome their personal obstacles in the sport, and their infatuation for one another helps and hurts those quests. It’s also fun to see both actors before their time dabbling in Marvel movies.

9. Final Set (2021)

9. Final Set
113m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Alex Lutz, Ana Girardot, Kristin Scott Thomas
Directed by
Quentin Reynaud
Watch on Amazon

Unlike other sports like golf or bowling where the athletes can compete at the highest level into their 50s, tennis is a sport for the young. Final Set challenges the presumption that people pushing middle age can’t play professional tennis when a nearly 40-year-old player tries to qualify for the French Open. The movie gets into the finer details of what motivates tennis players and serves as an inspirational reminder that age is but a number.

8. Citizen Ashe (2021)

8. Citizen Ashe
95m
Genre
Documentary
Stars
Billie Jean King, Jeanne Moutousammy-Ashe, Johnnie Ashe
Directed by
Rex Miller, Sam Pollard
Watch on Amazon

Citizen Ashe is a must-watch documentary for tennis fans who look up to Arthur Ashe and non-sports fans who want to learn about one of the sport’s most important barrier breakers. Ashe was a superstar on the court, winning three Grand Slams, but it was his courageous activism at the height of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s that set an example for other athletes, such as Magic Johnson, to follow. The film is much more educational than entertaining, but that doesn’t make it any less well-made! 

7. Match Point (2005)

7. Match Point
124m
Genre
Drama, Thriller, Crime, Romance
Stars
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer
Directed by
Woody Allen
Watch on Peacock

Match Point possesses one of the most famous directors of all time at the helm (Woody Allen) and one of this generation’s biggest actresses as the lead, Scarlett Johannson. A romantic drama about cheating, affairs, and deception uses tennis as a backdrop, but most of the action takes place within the domestic setting of the rich, unlikable protagonists’ lives.

6. 7 Days in Hell (2015)

6. 7 Days in Hell
43m
Genre
TV Movie, Comedy
Stars
Andy Samberg, Kit Harington, Jon Hamm
Directed by
Jake Szymanski
Watch on Amazon

7 Days in Hell satirizes the 11 hour Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010. Andy Samberg and Kit Harrington possess splendid comedic timing and an electric rivalry as tennis stars who must spend a little too much time with one another as they compete for an entire week on the court. The HBO exclusive film makes fun of some of the sport’s more ridiculous, outdated rules while eliciting plenty of laughs.

5. Challengers (2024)

5. Challengers
132m
Genre
Romance, Drama
Stars
Mike Faist, Josh O'Connor, Zendaya
Directed by
Luca Guadagnino
Watch on Amazon

The hottest tennis movie on the scene right now is Challengers. Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, a former superstar on the court who fuels the homoerotic fire underneath the surface between her current husband and ex-boyfriend as the two men compete against each other on the challenger circuit. Luca Guadagnino of Call Me By Your Name fame directs this stylish and entertaining romantic sports experience!

4. Battle of the Sexes (2017)

4. Battle of the Sexes
121m
Genre
Drama, Comedy, History
Stars
Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Andrea Riseborough
Directed by
Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Watch on Amazon

Gender activists love to argue about the merits of men and women competing against one another instead of in separate leagues. Battle of the Sexes brings audiences back to the pinnacle of this heated discussion by focusing on the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King in 1973. Steve Carell and Emma Stone embody the two tennis icons with realism and respect, but the story never overlooks the comedic aspects of the real-life event and what led up to it.

3. Borg vs McEnroe (2017)

3. Borg vs McEnroe
108m
Genre
Drama, History
Stars
Sverrir Gudnason, Shia LaBeouf, Stellan Skarsgård
Directed by
Janus Metz
Watch on Amazon

John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg are credited with helping make tennis an international spectacle in the 1970s and 1980s. Their rivalry remains a touchstone symbol of one-on-one competition. Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf do an outstanding job illustrating the personal triumphs and struggles of both men and how they pushed each other to greater heights than either man would have accomplished without the other. 

2. King Richard (2021)

2. King Richard
144m
Genre
Drama, History
Stars
Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Saniyya Sidney
Directed by
Reinaldo Marcus Green
Watch on Netflix

In Will Smith’s most awarded performance of his career, the talented actor depicts the hard-nosed, yet loving efforts of Richard Williams, the man who molded Serena and Venus into two of the most legendary tennis players to walk the planet. King Richard shows the importance of father-daughter relationships in a whole new light and is a true delight for fans of the two preeminent queens of the sport. 

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

1. The Royal Tenenbaums
110m
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Stars
Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller
Directed by
Wes Anderson
Watch on Hulu

The Royal Tenenbaums isn’t a tennis movie by title or themes, but it is the best movie ever made that includes the sport in some capacity in the plot. Wes Anderson’s dysfunctional family comedy-drama shows the differing perspectives of the Tenenbaum family as they grow up in the shadow of their exotic, estranged father. Richie Tenenbaum’s over-the-top meltdown while playing tennis encapsulates the family’s spoiled approach to life perfectly, and most fans view it as one of their favorite scenes in the film.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Shawn Laib
Shawn Laib is a freelance writer with publications such as Den of Geek, Quote.com, Edge Media Network, diaTribe, SUPERJUMP…
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