The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hollywood sets up love match at Wimbledon

London, June 23 (Reuters): If you come to watch the Wimbledon championships over the next two weeks, make sure you smile and look your best — you could be in a Hollywood movie.

The makers of the hit film Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral have been given unprecedented access by the organisers of the world’s most famous tennis tournament to make a romantic comedy called Wimbledon.

“The crew will be all over the place. So smile — you could be on camera,” a spokesperson for the tournament organisers said.

“They are here to get crowd shots and atmosphere. They will be coming back later to film on the Centre Court.”

The movie stars Paul Bettany as a lowly-ranked British player who is given a wild card for Wimbledon.

Bettany, who shot to silver screen prominence in A Beautiful Mind, has been undergoing coaching from former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash.

In the film, Bettany’s character Peter falls in love with a young American player Lizzie, played by Kirsten Dunst of Spider-Man fame. Her aggressive style on court proves to be an inspiration to him.

What happens after that is a closely guarded secret but local tennis fans are hoping that Britain, on the silver screen at least, will be able to celebrate its first Wimbledon men’s singles victory since Fred Perry in 1936.

Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title, whose other big hits have included Bridget Jones’s Diary, felt sport was perfect for the movies as it was a gladiatorial contest to which audiences naturally responded.

With the advances in computer technology pioneered by The Matrix, Wimbledon could be a hit for the cast if they can convey the feel of a big match on Centre Court on screen.

The producers are hoping that Wimbledon will do for tennis what Chariots of Fire did for athletics and Raging Bull and Rocky did for boxing.

“Working Title have been very successful with their films and the club felt it was good for the game and raised the profile of tennis,” the spokeswoman for the tournament organisers added.

The 117th Wimbledon championships opened on Monday and run to July 6.

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