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Home > How To Lounge> Movies & TV > Wimbledon 2022: What to watch as you get set for the tennis

Wimbledon 2022: What to watch as you get set for the tennis

As Wimbledon, Lounge’s favourite tennis Grand Slam starts, some streaming recommendations

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after their epic 2008 final. 
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal after their epic 2008 final.  (Getty Images)

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Strokes of Genius, 2018

Whether or not he is playing, no current viewer of tennis can go through the Wimbledon season without thinking of Roger Federer, his many victories, and subsequent losses at SW19. The latter, mostly in the context of Rafael Nadal. Strokes Of Genius, directed by Andrew Douglas, came out a decade after their epic final in 2008, regarded widely as one of the best matches in tennis history. Based on a 2010 book of the same name by sports journalist L. Jon Wertheim, the documentary takes the match as a framing device to talk about the lives of two of the greatest tennis players of all time and their long rivalry—superb viewing for anyone even vaguely interested in tennis. It was on Discovery Plus for some time but now the only recourse is the many snippets of it on various accounts of the Tennis Channel online. If you look a little, there is a helpful user-made playlist of the snippets. (YouTube)

A scene from King Richard, with Will Smith playing the father and early coach of Serena and Venus Williams
A scene from King Richard, with Will Smith playing the father and early coach of Serena and Venus Williams

King Richard, 2021

This is a no-brainer. A biopic based on Serena and Venus Williams’ initial days, when their father Richard coached them—as he says in the film— with a 78-page plan for their career. While we know about the sisters’ dominance of the game, the movie explores Venus’ trajectory more than it does Serena’s. Will Smith, who played Richard in this film, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and written by Zach Baylin, won the Academy Award for Best Actor for this role. Venus and Serena Williams, listed as executive producers on the film, are quoted as having said that the film is as close to reality as possible. (Apple TV, Google Play Movies)

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling, read by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

In 2008, BBC got Federer and Nadal to read a bit of this iconic poem. As they alternate stanzas, the famous lines, “if you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/ and treat those two impostors just the same” —engraved in the players’ entry to Wimbledon’s Centre Court—fall to Nadal’s lot. Federer ends the reading with the poem’s last verse: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute/ With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run/ Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it/And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!” In retrospect, it seems poignant, given his loss after a four-hour, 48-minute marathon final that year. (YouTube)

A scene from the Vampire Weekend music video, with Jake Gyllenhaal taking swigs as he plays the match.
A scene from the Vampire Weekend music video, with Jake Gyllenhaal taking swigs as he plays the match.

Giving Up the Gun, 2010

An unlikely inclusion in this list but this music video from Vampire Weekend’s 2010 album, Contra, not only begins with every tennis lover’s favourite sound—the resonant slam of the ball against a racket’s strings—it also features a fun, stylised indoor tennis match. In it, a young woman faces various opponents—cameos played by celebrities, including a dismissive Joe Jonas (of the Jonas Brothers) and a drunk Jake Gyllenhaal (the actor). Directed by the Grammy-winning duo Emmett and Brendan Malloy, the video seems to capture the message that most sportspeople keep in mind: the need to overcome all rivals—especially oneself. (YouTube)

Tennis moments in LEGO

It isn’t hard-court season yet but this is as good a time as any to revisit animator Jared Jacobs’ stop-motion videos for the 2019 US Open. Made entirely from customised LEGO sets, the five under-30-second clips (all compiled on the US Open’s Facebook Page) recreate iconic moments from the Slam’s history. This includes the match point in American doubles players’ Mike and Bob Bryans’ 100th career title (shown above) and Federer’s “tweener” shot against Novak Djokovic. Jacobs used the original commentary and on-court audio and ensured that the LEGO action was in sync with the briefest of sounds—including the stray second of a racket touching the ground. (Facebook, YouTube)

A shot from the LEGO video that recreated the Mike and Bob Bryan match. 
A shot from the LEGO video that recreated the Mike and Bob Bryan match. 

Battle of the Sexes, 2017

In the 1970s, tennis legend Billie Jean King had just started the WTA tour, and is coming to terms with her sexuality, which is threatening her marriage. About the same time, Bobby Riggs, an older player on the men’s circuit, is dealing with a gambling problem and a rough patch in his marriage. At this time, Riggs bets that he can defeat any top player in the women’s tour. The highly anticipated “battle of the sexes” match of 1973 between them—abig moment for women's tennis as King won—was reportedly watched on TV by 50 million people. The 2017 film by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton based on this moment has some beautiful, even wistful frames. There are two other films on the same moment in tennis history: a 2001 comedy-drama by Jane Anderson called When Billie Beat Bobby and a 2013 documentary feature directed by James Erskine and Zara Hayes called The Battle Of The Sexes. For the 2017 film, Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs won the best actress and best actor awards respectively at the Golden Globes. (Hotstar)

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    24.06.2022 | 03:00 PM IST

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