Among classic American sports movies, the few films focused on tennis usually don’t make the list. What gives? Even boxing, a sport far less popular to compete in than tennis, has more than 25 Academy Awards to its name. The 2004 flop Wimbledon is one of the only tennis-centric flicks out there for fans, but doesn’t really do our sport justice. Despite a lack of fuzzy yellow balls on the big screen, MyTennisLessons selects the best tennis scenes in Hollywood, from the serious to funny to somewhat bizarre.
This laugh-out-loud funny scene from the Academy-Award nominated comedy depicts Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Helen (Rose Byrne), jealous of each another’s friendship with bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph), aggressively hitting shots at one another during a recreational tennis match.
Annie Hall (1977)
In a pivotal moment in this classic film, Annie (Diane Keaton) and Alvy (Woody Allen) strike up an awkward conversation after meeting at a tennis match. After she gives him a ride home, which includes several near collisions, Alvy remarks: “You’re a wonderful tennis player … You’re the worst driver I’ve ever seen in my life.”
In this 90s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, materialistic and superficial Cher (Alicia Silverstone) doesn’t hit a single tennis ball during a gym glass scene, complaining to her teacher, “Miss Stoeger, that machine is just a lawsuit waiting to happen!”
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
No pro tennis player has ever had a meltdown as dramatic as Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson), who takes off his shoes after spotting his adopted sister (Gwyneth Paltrow), with whom he is in love, and new husband (Bill Murray) in the stands at a match.
Mr. Deeds (2002)
While there’s also a tennis scene in this Adam Sandler comedy, John McEnroe makes a cameo as the “bad boy of tennis” for a segment that involves some special effects.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
The first scene of this critically acclaimed drama begins on the tennis court where tensions between husband (Jeff Daniels) and wife (Laura Linney) are evident.
Journalist Irwin Fletcher (Chevy Chase) meets the wife of the man whom he is investigating on the tennis court. Key takeaway: If you’re trying to avoid talking to someone, a good excuse is, “I have to work on my groundstroke.”
Bee Movie (2007)
Barry the bee discovers how sticky (and dangerous) tennis balls can be in this animated flick.
Seinfeld, “The Comeback” (1997)
We cheated: this one isn’t a movie. In the 147th episode of Seinfeld, Jerry discovers the salesman at a tennis pro shop who sold him an expensive racket is actually a terrible player. This discovery, of course, leads to comedic consequences, which culminates with Kramer getting pummeled by tennis balls from an overturned machine.
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
In a battle over the affections of their boss (Hugh Grant), Lucy (Sandra Bullock) and Joan (Alicia Witt) get into a heated rally during a mixed doubles match.