Comedy, suspense, one-upmanship – everything’s to play for when film characters take to the tennis court.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Pat and Mike (1952)
American tennis champs Don Budge, Gussie Moran and Alice Marble appear alongside sparring partners Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey in this sprightly sporting farce – one of the series of battle-of-the-sexes comedies that the pair made together.
Les Vacances de M. Hulot (1953)
In Jacques Tati’s first appearance as the accident-prone Monsieur Hulot, the gangly French gent takes a holiday to the Brittany coast and invents the strangest serve in cinema history, using his tennis racquet like a fly swatter.
School for Scoundrels (1960)
Brushing up on his tennis skills is integral to Henry Palfrey’s (Ian Carmichael) education at the School of Lifemanship in this 1960 British comedy, in which Palfrey goes head to head with his humiliating rival Raymond Delauney (Terry-Thomas, above).
Claire’s Knee (1970)
Claire’s knee (not least in tennis whites) prompts flutters of ardour for an intellectual holidaying in Lake Annecy in Éric Rohmer’s beguiling comedy of sexual morality.
Annie Hall (1977)
Surprisingly it took till 2004 before anyone used the Wimbledon championship as a backdrop for a romantic comedy. Richard Loncraine’s film teamed Paul Bettany as an English player on a downward turn with Kirsten Dunst as a rising US star.
The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Match Point (2005)
A Good Year (2006)
Always a favourite scene for filmmakers wanting to provide a theatre for their characters’ rivalries and resentments, a doubles match turns aggro for Kristen Wiig and her fellow bridesmaids in Paul Feig’s wedding-planning comedy.