The world's number one ranked male tennis player turns a quarter century today so in honor of Novak Djokovic why not celebrate with a list of best tennis moments in the movies?
Are there any? When I first thought of doing this list I was like YES -- little known fact: I played tennis daily one summer in high school and still love the game -- only to hit a brick wall rather than a low net. You may have heard this complaint before from tennis fans but given the abundance of sports movies of every other stripe it's almost like Hollywood hates the game. Those private tennis courts on celebrity acreage are all going to waste.
I've come up with ten things anyway.
BEST TENNIS SOMETHING OR OTHER IN THE MOVIES
You should know upfront that I've never seen the Chad Lowe boy-in-drag masterpiece Nobody's Perfect (1989) -- no decade ever loved cross-dressing comedies like the 80s -- so I shan't include it.
10 Wimbledon (2004)
Nobody likes this movie but given the abrupt sharp decline in romantic comedy quality over the past ten years, I bet it'd look pretty good if it came out now. At the very least both Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst looked fresh and healthy and sun-kissed as the professional athletes in love.
09 The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
We'll be sure to celebrate this movie's 25th anniversary next month but for now, remember that tennis match? Temperatures are flaring as the three best friends Jane (Susan Sarandon) Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Alex (Cher) all compete for Devil Jack Nicholson's attention. In a game of doubles things get vindicative and then supernatural.
Temperatures are flaring as the three best friends Jane (Susan Sarandon) Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Alex (Cher) all compete for devil Jack Nicholson's attention. In a game of doubles things get vindicative and then supernatural with the balls flying impossibly high and with impossible trajectories.
08 Bridesmaids (2011)
Speaking of vindicative tennis matches... Have you ever taken a tennis ball to the boob? Not pleasurable! Especially if your boobs are real.
07 Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) (1980)
Charlie Brown's world famous dog Snoopy is best known outside his canine role as a fighter pilot and a happy dancer. But he's also tennis obsessed. He even competed at Wimbledon in this lowkey animated feature.
06 A Room With a View (1986)
An hour into A Room With a View when Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) has (somewhat) successfully forgotten about her Italian romance and agreed to marry stuffy Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) we get a wild playful tennis match between her and her brother Freddy (Rupert Graves) suggesting that she still can't be tamed or rob herself of that "Honeychurch taint" as Cecil's mother so uncharmingly puts it. Lucy's about to get the good (but to her terrible) news that a neighboring villa will now house the man she's been trying not to think about. She's instantly peevish with Freddy who is the easiest target since she can't be peevish with herself.
Don't be silly, Freddy. You always overdo it when we play!"
05 Clueless (1995)
Amber: Ms Stoeger, my plastic surgeon told me not to participate in any activities where balls fly at my nose.
Dionne: Well there goes your social life …
04 Strangers on a Train (1951)
Alfred Hitchcock liked tennis -- or at least liked to reference it in the movies -- and particularly brilliant is this bit from his 1951 classic.
Sweaty Farley Granger, also the star of Rope, just finished with a game, notices eyes on him from across the court. The crowd's heads are methodically comically turning left to right to follow the unseen tennis match but as the camera zooms in one man's head never moves. He's already fixed his gaze on his handsome target.
03 Blow Up (1966)
Easily the most fascinating and oddest tennis match ever captured onscreen. I don't want to spoil it but if you still haven't seen this seminal 60s classic from Michelangelo Antonioni, what are you waiting for?
02 Match Point (2005)
Tennis is used mostly for thematically snap in this terrific Woody Allen thriller about an upwardly mobile tennis instructor and the rich family he'd like to marry into. But boy does Allen sell the late film twist, which geniusly recalls a common visual from tennis matches. For once the most memorable bit from a Woody Allen feature is not a choice turn of phrase but a visual reveal.
01 Annie Hall (1977)
One of the screen's all time most iconic romances began with the game! Annie Hall and Alvy Singer meet on the tennis courts over a game of mixed doubles. Outside the locker rooms thereafter they have one of the most awkward movie flirtations ever in which Annie first unleashes her famous catchphrase "♪ La Di Da. La Di Da". The flirtation comes complete with a hilariously risque accidental crotch-poking by way of Alvy's tennis racket handle.
Annie drives Alvy home and the mutual romantic feelings develop as fast as Annie's crazed driving through Manhattan streets.
You're a wonderful tennis player and the worst driver I've ever seen in my life."
There's not much tennis in the cinema but it's Woody Allen to the rescue!
Have you ever played tennis? Did I miss anything from the movies?