The 20 Best Tennis Movies Ever Made

Tennis might not be the most popular sport in the world when it comes to the big screen, but there are a few out there that have stood out in the past. It seems like tennis in some ways can make for an exciting arc, as it’s an individual sport that largely depends on how much work a person puts into achieving success.

What are the best tennis movies of all time? From made-up storylines to movies based on real-world events, here are the flicks to make the ultimate list.

1. “Borg vs. McEnroe”

  • Release Date: 2017
  • IMDB Rating: 6.9/10

The 1980 Wimbledon final is on the shortlist for the greatest match in tennis history. On one side of the net was the established great Bjorn Borg. He was getting his first real look at a young, polarizing John McEnroe.

This movie captures the essence of that battle in 1980, and also what would evolve into a competitive rivalry. Although Borg retired relatively early for a tennis player, the two-faced off several more times in their career.

Tennis movies rarely get a star-studded cast, but Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Bjorn Borg were pretty special. They did a solid job with this movie, making it one of the more successful tennis movies in recent memory.

2. “Wimbledon”

  • Release Date: 2004
  • IMDB Rating: 6.3/10

With tennis scoring using the word love instead of zero, it’s a surprise that there are no more romantic comedies surrounding the sport.

Wimbledon is perhaps the best known out there, starring a washed-up tennis pro teaching a prodigy how to take their game to the next level. Together, they achieve success on the court and love off it.

Despite being at different points in a career, the two ultimately fall in love as they grow closer and closer. Wimbledon (the movie) was able to pull off something that has never been done before at the old England club. They got some of the shots during the 2003 championships, which added to the authenticity.

3. “Battle of the Sexes”

  • Release Date: 2017
  • IMDB Rating: 6.7/10

This is another movie based on one of the most memorable matches of all time. Unlike Grand Slam finals, this was an event that allowed Billie Jean King to play Bobby Riggs in what was dubbed the Battle of the Sexes.

The movie once again shows that from time to time, tennis flicks can get some great talent. Emma Stone played Billie Jean King, while Bobby Riggs went to Steve Carell. Both did an excellent job bringing the two characters to life, and it has evolved into a very highly-rated movie.

4. “Venus and Serena”

  • Release Date: 2012
  • IMDB Rating: 6.3

It’s a bit frustrating to view Venus and Serena at this point because of how old some of the information seems to be. It’s crazy to think that this was released in 2012, and both are still active players. Just about everyone figured that they were closing in on retirement when this movie release.

The greatest sibling duo of all time has a remarkable story that never gets old. This documentary looks at some of their tough upbringings hurtles, as well as what they faced when actually on the pro tour.

Specifically, Venus was just recently diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome at the time, so there is a focus on how she continues to play tennis through pain in the joints and constant fatigue.

5. “Unmatched”

  • Release Date: 2010
  • IMDB Rating: 6.2

Perhaps the greatest head-to-head rivalry in tennis history on the women’s side of things is Martina Navratilova and Chris Everett. The two players faced off countless times in their career and found a way to one-up each other so many different times.

ESPN gave the rivalry a 30 for 30 treatment, and it did a great job telling their unique story. Despite the rivalry on the court, they had a great friendship off the court. The two would battle each other in just about anything, and they also practiced together more often than not.

ESPN has quite a few great 30 for 30 documentaries, and this one is right up there with the best of them. The story gets lost in the shuffle a bit these days with the library so big, but it’s important to see this unique friendship.

6. “Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World”

  • Release Date: 1994
  • IMDB Rating: 8.4

When Arthur Ashe tragically passed away, many were left wondering just what type of legacy he would leave. The three-time Grand Slam winner has a few different movies and documentaries out there about him, but the best is Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World.

What this movie does great is tell the story of the player on and off the court. He was one of the best of his era, but he also had a passion for helping the less fortunate. Not only did he fight against apartheid in South Africa, but he was a huge advocate for HIV and AIDS researched once he announced he himself had AIDS.

7. “Second Serve”

  • Release Date: 1986
  • IMDB Rating: 7.7/10

In 1986, CBS released this biographical film that told the story of Renee Richards. The transgender woman made headlines when she found success playing professional tennis in the 1970s. 

It was a very challenging time when people try to make sense of whether or not a transgender player should be eligible to play against women. She ultimately won the right to play in the U.S. Open, making it to the third round in 1979. The movie keeps things pretty straightforward and easy to understand, even for people not familiar with the situation.

Instead of taking a strong stance on whether or not Richards should be eligible to play, most of the movie focuses on what happened. Even though it is almost 35 years old now, the movie still holds up well.

8. “Little Mo”

  • Release Date: 1978
  • IMDB Rating: 6.7/10

Not only is Maureen Connolly considered one of the most underrated tennis players of all time, but she might just be one of the most underrated athletes of all time.

This is a youngster who looked invincible early on in her career, but tragedy hits when she was in an accident at 19. In this made-for television film, Little Mo tells her very unique story in a pretty accurate way.

It didn’t receive a ton of fanfare, but everyone should know this story. She’s one of the true greats in the game, even if her career only lasted a few seasons. Her life would ultimately come to an abrupt end at 35 years old when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

9. “7 Days in Hell”

  • Release Date: 2015
  • IMDB Rating: 7.1/10

This movie is a bit unique compared to most of the others that make this list. It is officially labeled as a mockumentary, and when it debuted on HBO, many people were interested to see how it would play out.

The movie is based loosely on the marathon match between John Isner and Nicholas Mahut in the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. The two fictional characters in the mockumentary have their entire life stories told.

It’s a comedy and meant not to be taken too seriously. It has received pretty solid reviews since its release, and there is speculation that future mockumentaries might release at some point involving tennis as well.

10. “Breakpoint”

  • Release Date: 2014
  • IMDB Rating: 6.1/10

This film never made it to any big release, but it made the rounds at film festivals back in 2014. Eventually, it was released on video on demand and has received decent reviews as a comedy.

The story involves two brothers joining forces after being separated for years, and making a run at a Grand Slam tournament. As one might expect, the clashing attitudes of the two players make for some good comedy overall.

It won’t be confused as a classic any time soon, but it’s worth checking out for people who want a little bit of tennis with their comedy. The acting is pretty solid all-around in the movie, and there are just enough funny parts to keep people entertained.

11. “Match Point”

  • Release Date: 2005
  • IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

It might not be the same type of tennis movie many of these others are, but match point is a movie worthy of the list. Written and directed by Woody Allen, the psychological thriller has a good amount of star power in the cast.

There isn’t going to be a good amount of tennis talk or information in this movie, but it does have that theme surrounding the plot the entire time. After all, the lead character Chris Wilton is a retired tennis professional, and he currently works as an instructor in London.

12. “Tennis Anyone?”

  • Release Date: 2005
  • IMDB Rating: 5.7/10

This is a film that tells the story of a struggling actor looking for a new passion in life. After searching and searching, he begins to start playing in celebrity tennis tournaments. After having success, it turns into a real thing for him to be passionate about.

Tennis is able to help turn his life around at an important time. His best friend is also along for the ride.

13. “2nd Serve”

  • Release Date: 2012
  • IMDB Rating: 5.7/10

Who doesn’t appreciate a solid underdog story? It seems like there is one for every sport out there, and tennis is no different. That is exactly what the writers are going for with Second Serve.

After a former tennis star is fired from his job at a prestigious country club, he gets a second chance working at a public racquet club. He gets the opportunity to take on some of his former coworkers with his new group, and they ultimately prevail in an epic battle.

14. “When Billy Beat Bobby”

  • Release Date: 2012
  • IMDB Rating: 5.7/10

The story of Billie Jean King playing Bobby Riggs is so important to tennis that there are several movies out there connected to the event. This might not be the best of the bunch any longer, but the 2001 release is solid.

What makes this one a little bit different? For starters, it seems like they go for comedy just a little bit more. It focuses less on the actual story and informing viewers, and more on making things pretty funny.

Unfortunately, the acting isn’t quite as good, which is the other main reason why Battle of the Sexes takes the cake for the top option.

15. “16-love”

  • Release Date: 2012
  • IMDB Rating: 5.7/10

Adults might not view this as one of the top tennis movies ever, but it has a targeted audience. Teenagers should enjoy the story of a top junior player discovering a typical teenage life.

It can feel very isolated and different being a top player in the world at a young age, and sacrifices are made all the time as far as social lives are concerned.

As the title suggests, she ultimately finds love that she never felt possible after court. This throws a wrench into her future tennis career and leads to a bunch of related storylines.

16. “Nobody’s Perfect”

  • Release Date: 2017
  • IMDB Rating: 5.4/10

This comedy is not ultra memorable, but it has a unique storyline that brings in some viewers. The main character in the movie plays college tennis, and he falls in love with another tennis player.

After slipping a bit in school and getting kicked off the tennis team, he and his friend put together a plan to turn the down in the dumps guy into a woman. This is to reconnect with the estranged girlfriend hopefully.

This movie probably doesn’t get made in the present time, but it has some funny tennis parts in it. It’s worth checking out if looking for something a bit different.

17. “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach”

  • Release Date: 2009
  • IMDB Rating: 5.5/10

A janitor turned tennis coach put together a team that competes at the highest level in Nebraska. It’s a comedy that is actually pretty underrated, especially for people looking for something interesting in the tennis world.

The cast is very solid, the plot has some funny moments, and it does satisfy a lot of people’s needs for some quality tennis in a movie. Some of the jokes are a bit dull, but overall, it makes the tail end of this list.

18. “Hard, Fast and Beautiful!”

  • Release Date: 1951
  • IMDB Rating: 6.2/10

This movie throws away back to 1951 when tennis was hardly the same sport as it is today. Despite all the differences, the movie follows a tennis prodigy attempting to decide between a budding romance, and the ambitions her mother has planned out.

Even though this movie is old, a remake could be done very easily with tennis today. That’s how little some things have changed, as they are still plenty of parents trying to live out their dreams with their children.

19. “The Break”

  • Release Date: 1995
  • IMDB Rating: 5.3/10

As a head case professional player, Nick Irons is ultimately banned from the tour for an incident seen by millions on television. Out of options, he decides to coach a troubled son of his bookie.

They run into a lot of issues along the way, showing the pros and cons of rising up the ranks and tennis. Ultimately, they reach the top prize, and there is a bit of romance thrown in the plot as well.

20. “The Prince Of Tennis”

  • Release Date: 2019
  • IMDB Rating: 7.6/10

Rounding out the list of tennis movies to check out is this one from Japan. It might not be a top choice for an English-speaking audience, but the story is a pretty good one when it’s all said and done.

They do a pretty good job of telling the story of the struggles of trying to become a professional tennis player. Even though the protagonist is considered a child prodigy, there are countless others ready to do battle as well.

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