Movies about various kinds of sports have always attracted a large audience, due to their exciting storylines, often being inspired by true events, and portraying people who have gone through a lot to achieve what they now have.
Tennis is a beloved sport and it is very interesting to see what is going on behind the scenes, what the players are experiencing and feeling before they stand on the court. And if there is love, family, or friendship story mixed somewhere in between, who wouldn’t like to see it? This is the list of 25 best tennis movies of all time.
1. Match Point (2005)
Even though this is not a movie about tennis, this sport plays a big role in the story altogether. It is an intense drama-thriller about an Irish tennis player Chris Wilton who is still struggling financially even though he has recently become a retired tennis professional.
When he accepts the job of a tennis coach at an elite London tennis club, he befriends one of his students, Tom Hewitt, and starts dating his sister Chloe. Everything seems to be going fine until Chris meets Nola, Tom’s girlfriend, and becomes obsessed with her which will dramatically change the course of his life.
2. Wimbledon (2004)
This adorable sports romance drama has been partially inspired by the events at Wimbledon when Goran Ivanišević won after being personally invited to play. Paul Bettany plays Peter Colt, a tennis professional in his thirties who is slowly coming to terms with the fact that he might be too old to continue playing professionally.
He decides to quit after the last Wimbledon but the series of events that await him will completely mess up his plans. When he meets Lizzie Bradbury, the talented American tennis player and falls in love with her, his whole perspective on playing and competing will suddenly change.
3. Borg vs. McEnroe (2017)
This biographical sports drama concentrates on the 1980 Wimbledon championship and the story between two rivals, the calm Björn Borg and passionate John McEnroe, played by Sverrir Gudnason and Shia Labeouf.
Borg is number 1 in the tennis world, a champion with numerous tournaments won and he is about to be confronted with a fresh face, a gifted American called John McEnroe who might become a serious threat to his number one title.
4. 7 Days In Hell (2015)
This very well-accepted tv-movie is filmed in a documentary style and it tells the story of one of the longest Wimbledon matches, the 2001 competition where the two players competed for seven days.
It is the tale of rivalry between an American tennis player, Aaron Williams, played by Andy Samberg, and an English tennis player, Charles Poole, played by Kit Harrington. Their long-lasting duel has come to its peak in these seven days, showing all their greatness and talent.
5. Battle of the Sexes (2017)
This movie brings the story of one of the most watched tennis matches ever, the 1973 legendary match between women’s world champion Billie Jean King, played by Emma Stone, and an ex-man’s champion Bobby Riggs.
It has been marked as The battle of the sexes and it reached 90 million viewers across the globe. While dealing with their rivalry on the court, they were fighting more serious battles in their personal life. King with her own sexuality and Riggs with his gambling which led to many problems with his wife and family.
6. Venus and Serena (2012)
This is a sports documentary about two sisters and one of the best tennis players ever, Venus and Serena Williams. They have always been surrounded by people who adored them and the ones who felt only resentment and suspicion.
They have always been the best in tennis but it all took a great toll on their personal lives and health. In 2011 Venus found out she suffers from an autoimmune disease and Serena managed to fight a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. But through all that time they have been each other’s greatest support.
7. Final Set (2020)
This French sports drama tells the story of Thomas who was once thought to be a tennis prodigy but never achieved the career he has hoped for. But at 37 and despite all his health issues and declining physical ability, he decides to give it one last try.
He is going to compete in the qualifications for the French Open, hopeful to make it for the last time.
8. Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World (1994)
This sports documentary deals with numerous interesting topics connected to the late African American tennis player Arthur Ashe. It was narrated by Ossie Davis and in its 50 minutes duration, it introduces the audience to the complexity of Ashe’s character.
It shows the greatness of his game but it is also an excellent portrayal of a man who struggled with so much more than just professional pressure. It shows his struggles in his personal life, including the battle against racism and AIDS.
9. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
This Wes Anderson masterpiece about an unusual family of three grown prodigies and their parents isn’t directly connected to tennis but it has many unforgettable tennis scenes where we learn a lot about their problems.
This humoristic drama introduces us to Margot, Chas, and Ritchie Tenenbaum, all geniuses of some kind who live with their mother in their fascinating family household. Their problems will become bigger when their father decides to return after many years of abandonment, determined to bring his family together.
10. Second Serve (1986)
This tv-movie was inspired by true events about tennis professional Renee Richards whose life and professional career changed in 1976 when it was revealed that she was a transgender woman. The story goes back to 1964 when we meet Richard Radley, a successful New York doctor who likes to dress up as a woman.
Faced with the fact that he cannot have it all, the doctor, diagnosed with psychotic gender confusion decides to live it all behind, becomes Renee, and continues his life as a completely different person far away in California.
11. First One In (2020)
After being expelled from a popular reality show, unemployed real estate agent Madi Cooke decides to team up with a group of misfit tennis players in a match against Bobbi Mason, an ambitious real estate specialist, and her tennis-playing so-called friends.
12. Little Mo (1978)
This tv-movie is a biographical sports drama about tennis star Maureen Connoly who was the first woman to win all four Grand Slam titles in one year. This is an inspirational story with a brilliant performance by Glynnis O’Connor as Maureen.
13. Break Point (2014)
This is a funny sports comedy about two estranged brothers who decide to work together in order to be accepted to a grand slam tennis tournament. Jimmy Price’s days as a professional doubles tennis player are almost over.
When his latest partner abandoned him, he suddenly finds himself in a terrible situation, not ready to quit. Wanting to revive his days of fame, he asks his former tennis player and brother Darren to play with him. With help of a strange 11-year-old Barry, the two brothers decide to give it a try at one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments.
14. Tennis Anyone? (2005)
This sports drama is so much more than a tennis movie. It is also a story of finding yourself and figuring out the meaning of life and friendship. It is a movie about two unsuccessful friends from Hollywood who get some answers to the questions bothering them through celebrity tennis tournaments.
It is an independent movie, written and directed by Kirk Fox and Donal Logue who made an excellent acting job playing Danny and Gary, the two losers who want to find their place in the world.
15. 2nd Serve (2012)
Owen “Game Set” Match is a professional tennis player, one of the best in town, employed by the wealthy Fountain Club. With his sun-bleached hair, tan and attractive looks he is a real ladies’ guy, but a history of bad decisions will take him to a completely different place.
He is now working at a local YMCA club where he is about to meet all kinds of dysfunctional youngsters. Owen will soon figure out that happiness doesn’t have to lie only in wealth and prospects but that he can find the meaning o life in the most unexpected places.
16. When Billie Beat Bobby (2001)
This is another movie about the epic tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. But while The Battle Against sexes deals mostly with the match itself and the personal problems of the main protagonists, this tv-movie brings us the story that led to this world-famous event.
Billie has always been a tomboy who liked to play football with her friends but her parents opposed to that so she decided to play tennis, becoming one of the best female tennis players ever. When a male chauvinist Bobby Riggs challenges her to a 1972 match she refuses but when he defeats another excellent female player she accepts it which results in the match of the century.
17. King Richard (2021)
Another look at the lives and careers of two brilliant tennis players, Serena and Venus Williams, this time from the perspective of their father Richard Williams. He is determined to make his daughters famous and in this brilliant sports drama, we are following their rise to the top.
From Compton and its neglected tennis courts where the girls trained daily to the best and most respected world tennis tournaments, this is an inspirational tale about two sisters who were pushed by their father’s commitment and their mother’s balanced upbringing to become one of the most popular tennis players ever.
18. 16-Love (2012)
This is a family sports drama about a girl who will realize there is so much more to life besides tennis. Ally Mash is a teenager whose life has always been about tennis. She is constantly training, never finding time to do anything else.
After a serious accident with her ankle, all her dreams and wishes about a professional career seem to have disappeared. But this accident might prove to be one of the best things that happened to her since she will learn there is a world outside tennis and that love is just around the corner.
19. Nobody’s Perfect (1990)
Chad Lowe stars in this romantic comedy about Steve, a college freshman who plays tennis for his school. But when he falls in love with Shelly who is also a tennis player, everything starts going south for him.
He can’t eat and sleep, his grades are getting worse and finally, the gets kicked out of his tennis team. Completely desperate, Steve agrees to his friend’s idea to dress up as a woman and join the woman’s tennis team, in order to get close to Shelly who doesn’t even know he exists.
20. Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951)
One of the first tennis movies in movie history, directed by Ida Lupino, this romantic drama tells the story of Gordon and Florence, two tennis players with different plans for their careers. Florence’s mother has big plans for her and Florence, forcing her to become one of the best players.
Florence is indeed getting better, due to her mother’s manipulations and a fame-oriented coach, but this will slowly become too much for her. Soon, Florence will have to decide whether to obey her mother and do as she wants or listen to her heart and follow her dreams that don’t necessarily include a professional tennis career.
21. The Break (1995)
Nick Irons is a professional tennis player who gets banned from the tour for hitting a player during a tv match and agrees to train Joel, a stubborn boy who wants to become a professional player. Joel is a bookie’s son who doesn’t want him to play anymore so he contracts Nick to discourage him.
In the beginning, Nick is all about making him stop but after seeing Joel’s commitment and drive he decides to continue coaching him and teaching him all the tricks he might need, both physical and psychological.
22. Citizen Ashe (2021)
This is the newest documentary about the late Afro-American tennis player Arthur Ashe, who wasn’t famous only for his professional career but also for his battle against racism and before his death, with AIDS.
This documentary explores his life and tennis career and also concentrates on his days as a racism and HIV activist. Many famous professional tennis players are featured in this documentary, talking about their colleagues, such as John McEnroe and Billie Jean King.
23. Private Lessons (2008)
This French-Belgian drama of a 16-year-old boy, a tennis professional who doesn’t want to spend his days on education but plans to go straight to Wimbledon. He will soon have to face the fact that without education he cannot proceed with his greatest love.
But Jonas isn’t that famous yet and he must go through some educational steps before he reaches the top. Pierre is a 30-something-year-old man who offers to tutor Jonas but when the boy decides to turn his back on school completely, their relationship becomes something so much more than the allowed teacher-student one.
24. The Prince of Tennis (2006)
Based on the popular manga series of the same name, this movie tells the story of a 12-year-old tennis prodigy Ryoma Echizen who is famous for winning four successive victories at the American Junior Tennis tournaments.
His father takes him back to Japan and Ryoma enrolls at Seishun Academy Middle School where he will have to prove himself among the most talented tennis players, many of them older than him. Besides being the only first-year student on the regulars team and with a tournament approaching, Ryoma will soon have to deal with some more personal issues.
25. The Christian Licorice Store (1971)
Beau Bridges and Maud Williams star in this drama about Frankin Cane, a professional tennis player who is becoming more and more successful, together with his trainer Jonathan by his side. Jonathan is determined to make him the best.
Soon, Cane meets Cynthia, a pretty free-spirited photographer and after Jonathan’s sudden death, Cane soon succumbs to life completely devoid of morality and good manners. He is completely lost, not finding solace in anything anymore and his future has never been more uncertain.