5 best tennis movies to watch after 'Challengers'

The Challengers poster features a large image of Zendaya wearing sunglasses that reflect two tennis players
(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

In “Challengers,” tennis has never looked sexier. Directed by Luca Guadagnino, “Challengers” stars Zendaya as Tashi Duncan, a former tennis star forced into early retirement due to a devastating knee injury. Tashi becomes a coach for her husband, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), and turns him into a tennis champion. After Art suffers several losses, Tashi signs him up for a low-level tournament to regain his confidence. The opponent is Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor), Art’s former best friend and Tashi’s old boyfriend.

“Challengers” is a steamy and seductive romantic thriller set in the world of tennis. While Faist and O’Connor are both excellent, Zendaya is the winner of “Challengers,” giving a star-making performance that should catapult her career to new heights. We’ll see if Zendaya’s popularity makes “Challengers” a box-office winner. The film currently holds an excellent 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

If tennis becomes your new favorite sport after watching “Challengers,” keep that newfound love for the game alive by checking out these five tennis movies. 

‘King Richard’

The rise of Venus and Serena Williams is depicted through the eyes of their father, Richard Williams, in the Oscar-winning drama “King Richard.” Will Smith stars as Richard, the Williams family patriarch determined to turn Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) into tennis stars. Despite being from Compton, an area not known for its tennis, Richard follows his 78-page plan for success to a “T" as the girls become teenage phenoms.  

On the surface, “King Richard” is a sports movie about two of the greatest players to pick up rackets. However, "King Richard" thrives when positioned as a family drama, examining one man’s determination to create a better life for his children. Though his performance is now associated with the Oscars slap, Smith’s portrayal of Richard remains his crowning achievement as a dramatic actor. 

Watch on Netflix and Max

‘7 Days in Hell’

While the title of the greatest tennis movie is up for debate, the choice of the funniest tennis movie is solidified. That title belongs to “7 Days in Hell,” a 2015 mockumentary about the longest match in tennis history. The HBO film was inspired by the 11-hour marathon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.

The two central figures of “7 Days in Hell” are Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg) and Charles Poole (Kit Harington), two tennis competitors who battle in a match that took one week. “7 Days in Hell” plays like an HBO Sports presentation, featuring match footage and interviews with those who witnessed history. The mockumentary is, to put it lightly, weird. There are storylines involving a sex tape, a prison escape, and a rowdy Queen of England (June Squibb). As strange as it gets, the comedy in “7 Days in Hell” is pure gold. 

Watch on Max


The actress who started the “Spider-Man to Tennis Star" pipeline was Kirsten Dunst, who starred as Lizzie Bradbury in “Wimbledon.” Peter Colt (Paul Bettany) is in the final stages of his tennis career. Once a top-15 player, Peter is now ranked No. 119 in the world. The upcoming Wimbledon will be his final event before retirement. When the tournament begins, Peter meets Lizzie (Dunst), an up-and-coming American player on the women’s side. 

Lizzie renews Peter’s love for the game, leading to several upset victories. Yet, the romantic fling becomes something more meaningful as time goes on. “Wimbledon” is not as erotic as “Challengers.” It plays for the rom-com crowd, with Bettany and Dunst giving charming performances as the leads.

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

‘Battle of the Sexes’

Dunst passes the “Spider-Man to Tennis Star” baton to Emma Stone, who starred as the legendary Billie Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes.” In 1973, the 29-year-old King faced 55-year-old Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) in a tennis match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.” The contest became one of the most-watched sporting events of all time. 

While the match is depicted in the film, “Battle of the Sexes” focuses more on King’s life off the court, including the fight for equal pay to her sexual awakening. As a two-time Oscar winner, Stone is the perfect actress to play a trailblazer like King. “Battle of the Sexes” is an inspiring tribute to a seminal moment in sports history. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

‘Borg vs. McEnroe’

Björn Borg and John McEnroe are two of the greatest tennis players of all time — and complete opposites. Borg is cool, calm, and collected on the court, while McEnroe is a feisty hothead. In the 1970s and 1980s, the competitors became fierce rivals. Borg and McEnroe’s match in the 1980 Wimbledon final is the subject of Janus Metz Pedersen’s “Borg vs McEnroe,” with Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf playing Borg and McEnroe, respectively. 

“Borg vs McEnroe” features the best tennis scenes out of all the films on this list. The film does an excellent job of providing context for each competitor’s life. Borg lives a lavish lifestyle but faces significant pressure to win a fifth straight Wimbledon. McEnroe is the fiery American with a chip on his shoulder and a nasty temper. It’s arguably LaBeouf’s best work of his career. They say styles make fights. The contrasting personalities of Borg and McEnroe serve as the perfect backdrop for dramatic competition. 

Watch on Tubi

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Dan Girolamo

Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include ComingSoon.net, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.