Top Ten… Tennis Scenes From Movies

Anyone for tennis? Why bother with more inevitable British woe at Wimbledon when you can game, set and watch these great tennis movie scenes? Ross McG gets out his racket…

10. Annie Hall (1977)

No surprise to see a Woody Allen film in this list, but for those of you expecting the straight sets loss that was 2005’s Match Point, look away now. Not only is it an insult to the game of tennis and the game of acting, it also chucks in a go at table tennis too, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson so wooden they get out-acted by the bats in their hands. But the same cannot be said of Allen’s masterpiece (in your face, Manhattan fans), in which schlub Alvy Singer meets his titular titulation at the local tennis court. When I play tennis the only people I meet are rough hoodies trying to steal my balls. My tennis balls.

9. Bridesmaids (2011)

There was so much talk about Bridesmaids championing comedy for women on its release that it was totally forgotten just how funny it is for both sexes. Alright, it goes on about 30 minutes too long, but sometimes you can’t help eating too much steak either. A lot of a good thing, however burpy it makes you afterwards, is still better than an adequate amount of shite, which is what most recent rom-coms look like in Bridesmaids’ warm glow. But forget the puke-fest in the bridal shop, the film’s tennis scene is its real ace. Nothing like some Kristen Wiig wigging and a bit of AC/DC.

8. Blow-Up (1966)

With a name like Michelangelo Antonioni, chances are the tennis scene in one of your seminal movies isn’t going to feature Kirsten bleeding Dunst. Although I not so secretly enjoy watching Paul Bettany flinging himself around the grass in Wimbledon (has Sam Neill ever been in a bad film?), there’s much to enjoy in the finale of Antonioni’s Blow-Up. Mainly cos the director decides to thrown in a game of tennis. Played by mime artists. Just for the hell of it. Rafael Nadal would hate playing these guys.

7. A Good Year (2006)

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Nobody is saying that A Good Year is a good film, but there is something fun about seeing Russell Crowe making a complete tool of himself in Provence. And he does it on a tennis court. While no Rod Laver, Crowe is definitely decent on the clay.

6. Strangers On A Train (1951)

Renowned for his hobby of torturing blondes in his movies, Alfred Hitchcock was also partial to a bit of the old serve and volley. In Dial M For Murder, the villain is a former tennis player, and Strangers On A Train also lets the sport provide a suitable background. Maybe tennis’s tenseness appealed to Hitchcock, or maybe he just didn’t like football. Regardless, no one could make a double-headed scene switching between a game of tennis and a guy struggling to find a lighter in a drain terrific drama. Game, set and match, Hitchcock.

5. School For Scoundrels (1960)

From high drama to outrageous laughter, as the legendary Terry-Thomas shows off his skills on the court in School For Scoundrels. No, not the crap one that everyone’s forgotten with Billy Bob Thornton. Trying to impress a watching female, good old TT torments Ian Carmichael with a brilliant display of baseline mastery. Hard cheese, indeed.

4. The Witches Of Eastwick (1987)

Who wouldn’t want to play doubles with Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon? Jack Nicholson is the lucky devil in this tennis foursome, as the ball starts to do some strange things. Some of the strokeplay on show here is just breathtaking. Could Andy Murray tie his lace in between shots? Could Roger Federer start a thunderstorm by hitting a ball into the clouds?

Go to 3m50 in the video below to watch…

3. Fletch (1985)

Although it does take place at a tennis club, there’s not much tennis in this clip from 80s classic Fletch, in which Chevy Chase plays one of the great investigative journalists in movie history. Eat that, Woodward and Bernstein. What this scene lacks in actual tennis action, however, it more than makes up for in smug Chevy flirting. ‘I knew that’s where my mouth would be,’ he quips. So did we, Chevy. And that’s why we flocked to your movies.

2. Clueless (1995)

The second Cher in this list to hold a racket, although Alicia Silverstone’s Austenesque heroine doesn’t deign to actually swing hers at a ball. She’s way to cool for that. Although she certainly exercises her mouth. Way harsh, Tai.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Federer v Nadal. Connors v McEnroe. McEnroe v Borg. Gandhi v Tenenbaum. All great matches, and that’s why this effort from Wes Anderson tops our ranking list. Luke Wilson’s Richie Tenenbaum has one of the all-time super tennis breakdowns. Well, playing the day after your sister marries Peter Venkman will do that do you.



2 Responses to “Top Ten… Tennis Scenes From Movies”

  1. I had anticipate Bridesmaids being higher, but Tenenbaums is an excellent pick at #1.

  2. Clueless and Bridesmaids should have been 1 and 2! Lol

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