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'Robert Browning visits Elizabeth Barrett at 50 Wimple St' by HGC Schmalz, 1856-1935

‘Robert Browning visits Elizabeth Barrett at 50 Wimple St’ by HGC Schmalz, 1856-1935

There’s been quite a lacuna between recent blog posts, due to a tenacious strain of flu that just wouldn’t let go (no wonder the French call it ‘la grippe’). I had no choice but to forsake my tennis bookings and this blog, and take to my bed. After 10 miserable days (and 6 hours of missed tennis) had passed I began to feel like Elizabeth Barrett, languishing on her couch, but sadly having neither laudanum nor poet, nor even a pet spaniel to ease my bed-ridden boredom, I resorted to watching movies featuring tennis.

While there aren’t (m)any good movies about tennis itself, it has sneaked into more than you might think. Usually exploiting either its supposed elitism or its gladiatorial nature, tennis has been used symbolically by directors from Alfred Hitchcock to Woody Allen.

It seems that many scriptwriters and film-makers must have had terrible, scarring experiences with tennis because in the majority of movies, tennis players are not shown in a great light. While amateur tennis players are mostly snobby, superficial and judgemental (Bachelor Party, Trading Places, Fletch), professional tennis players are shown to be murderous (Matchpoint, Strangers on a Train), corrupt, social climbing, mentally unstable (The Royal Tenenbaums), and prone to endless bouts of self-doubt (Balls Out, Wimbledon).

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