22 May 2020

Shotify: songs of innocence and experience to take on court

Lleyton Hewitt used to get himself into the right mindset for a tennis match by playing the theme from the film Rocky; Serena Williams prefers 'Flashdance... What A Feeling' by Irene Cara. Whether it's calming or inspiring, music is all about getting players into the zone. What works best? It's a personal thing and there is music for every type of tennis. Here is our set of six.  


ROBIN WARD: Wimbledon Song 2012

If you are missing the prospect of Wimbledon – and, frankly, who isn’t -  Robin Ward’s affection homage to the Championships will cheer you up. Ward, who recorded the song on his laptop, wanted to make a video to go with it, but it needed to be done fast. Over three days, with the help of a friend and his brother, he filmed a cardboard cartoon. “There were no paper cuts, but the room was pretty hectic, and there are a few drops of paint on the carpet to remember it by,” he said at the time. Guaranteed to raise a smile.

Best lines:
I like my tennis at Wimbledon
On a fresh cut lawn with the kiss of the summer sun
Every point that’s scored
Is punctuated with a pocket of polite applause


Frank Turner:  Love-40 Down 2015

Who knows if Frank Turner actually plays tennis? Who cares? Sending himself up on his YouTube video we rather think he might struggle with hand eye co-ordination, let alone top spin but that is not the point. Tennis is a metaphor for his rant against ageing and the general struggle of life. But delivered with the kind of cheerful fist-pumping conviction a player needs to carry him or herself on to court, this track from his Positive Songs for Negative People album is a witty take on fighting back when you feel beleaguered.

Best lines:
I'm love forty down
As the match slips away from me, I need the crowd to pray for me
To turn this one around
I've worked far too hard to be this far from victory


Hugh Laurie: I’m in Love with Steffi Graf 1995

First Performed on A Bit of Fry and Laurie, the BBC sketch show which ran from 1987 to 1995, this is the multi-talented Laurie at his satirical best. A parody of hair-flicking, self-satisfied guitar players in boy bands everywhere, it is a love ballad to the German champ which is full of wit, flair and understatement. Take for example the line “She’s extremely good at tennis, On any kind of surface there might be.” Irresistible.

Best lines: 
 'Cause Steffi is a goddess
My love for her, it knows no b-o-o-o-unds
I'd kill to make her happy
Or just to get her through the early r-o-o-o-ounds  


Abba: The Winner Takes it all 1980 

ABBA’s divorce-influenced lament still perfectly sums up the misery of loss forty years after the band’s shiny satin suits first shimmered. Voted Britain's Favourite Break-Up Song in 2006, it could also have been written for every runner up who has to stand unhappily in the spotlight while the winner gets the glory. Whether you want it as a reminder of what it feels like to win – or how you much want to avoid losing – it’s worth a spot on your playlist.

Best lines: 
The winner takes it all
The loser's standing small
Beside the victory
That's her destiny


Far in Jim:  Hey there Andy Murray 2013 

A funny and affectionate tribute to Andy Murray made in the first year he won Wimbledon, this 'song letter' was created by @farinjim (John Paul Speirs, formerly Bassist with Scottish band Hue and Cry). Its deliberate homemade awkwardness is all about a fan and his idol. Keep watching when the lyrics end as there is still a joke or two to come.

Best lines:
You know that woman your mum
I think her name is Julie
Does she tell you to tidy your room?
That’s what my mum does"



ELTON JOHN: Philadelphia Freedom 1975

"I can't write a song about tennis," was apparently the reaction of Bernie Taupin, Elton John's long time collaborator, when the singer wanted to create a song for his friend Billie Jean King. Fortunately Billie Jean also wanted the song to be more about "a feeling" than the game so Bernie and Elton came up with an uplifting single which made a knowing nod to her pro tennis team, the Philadelphia Freedoms, and everyone was happy. The label on the original vinyl said: "with "Love to B.J.K. and the sound of Philadelphia."

Best lines: 
Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom
From the day that I was born, I've waved the flag
Philadelphia freedom took me knee-high to a man
Gave me peace of mind my daddy never had