pop stars you wouldn’t expect to play tennis

Plenty of tennis players have fancied themselves as pop stars. John McEnroe has jammed with Springsteen and Santana, as well as joining fellow ex-pro Pat Cash – along with The Who’s Roger Daltrey and two members of Iron Maiden – in one-off charity supergroup The Full Metal Rackets. Jimmy Connors sang on a Lionel Richie album. Both Serena Williams and Andy Murray have tried their hand at rapping, while former French Open champion Yannick Noah even crossed the line permanently, releasing a string of reggae albums, including a couple of million sellers (in France).

But when the tennis shoe’s on the other foot, which singers can hit a mean cross-court forehand? Our list of tennis-playing pop stars may serve up a few surprises…

Elton John

Sir Elton’s love of Watford FC is well-known, but he’s an equally big tennis nut. A lifelong friend of Billie Jean King, his 1975 single Philadelphia Freedom was a tribute to her pro tennis team of the time. Since 1993, the pair have hosted the annual WTT Smash Hits charity tournament, often partnering up to play doubles together. At last year’s event, held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Elton teamed up with Martina Navratilova for a narrow defeat to Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick.

Drake

Drake certainly loves sport. Rarely an NBA fixture goes by without the rapper trying to gatecrash the pre-match huddle of whichever team he’s supporting that week. But Drake’s also been spotted watching baseball, football, ice hockey, American football, even polo. And, of course, tennis. From 2011 onwards, Drake was often seen chilling in the VIP box wherever Serena Williams was playing, including when he cheered her on to victory at Wimbledon 2015. Were they dating or did they just enjoy hitting a few rallies from time to time? “Tennis matches at the crib,” he rapped on Worst Behavior, at pains to underline his own on-court credentials. “I swear I could beat Serena when she playin’ with her left…”

Justin Bieber

Pop’s answer to Nick Kyrgios certainly looks the part here, competing in 2015’s 11th Annual Desert Smash – a charity tournament hosted by Will Ferrell. Bieber teamed up with his compatriot, Canadian tennis pro Eugenie Bouchard, for a doubles match against Kevin Hart and TV presenter Billy Bush.

Shakira

As Shakira made clear, hips don’t lie – and the Colombian singer uses hers to swivel and hit a series of unstoppable volleys in this tennis training session she shared on Instagram. She may have picked up a few tips from her pal Rafael Nadal, who smouldered through the video to Shakira’s 2010 song Gypsy.