An Unnecessarily Thorough Investigation into Pete Wentz’s Love of Tennis
A year ago, we lost sports. Virus shut it all down. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Over the next few months, games and players and fans slowly came back into our lives. We welcomed it, sure. We even lived to see another March Madness run. An all-timer, both the men’s and women’s tourneys. It was all buildup, though. A runway to one bright, shining, moment.
On the holy day of April 5, 2021, sports truly returned to this planet when Fall Out Boy bassist Pete Wentz stepped on a Los Angeles tennis court with bleached hair like Andre Agassi, looking every bit as happy as the rest of us who’ve dared to dream of a post-pandemic life. In this moment, we’re Pete Wentz. In this moment, Pete Wentz is us.
Q. So what’s going on today?
A. Not a whole lot. I played a bunch of tennis and gotta pick up my kids from school. That’s about it.
A. Yeah, I play with these old guys. They crush my spirits on a daily basis.
Q. Old guys?
A. Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the great equalizers, that game. As long as you can place the ball, you can play it until you’re like a million.
Q. How long have you been playing?
A. I played when I was younger, and then I’ve been playing for the last five or six years maybe. I’m super into it right now. I watch the Open and all that stuff. But I feel like a year from now I’ll be like, “What do you mean, tennis? I was not into tennis!” I feel like that’s the way I’m headed. I’m like that guy from “Adaptation,” who gets really into something for like a year, and then not into it. I do that a lot.
We’d like to inform you that Wentz stuck with tennis. And you must see every moment of his evolution. Before we begin. This is not your typical Esquire story. This is a descent into the annals of space, time, tennis, and emo rock. You might think this is excessive. It is not.
All right. Before our man took his first intrepid steps on the court, he was a mere fan. Here, Wentz is at the 2018 US Open behind the legend Ralph Macchio, who not only looks like he could still beat my ass if he saw me bullying a teenager at a remote Valley beach, but is definitely a decade younger than his own son.
Above him? Another surprise entrance into the Hollywood Tennis Universe: Jeffrey Wright, looking like Westworld‘s Bernard after his seventh memory wipe.
Queue up a sad one. Maybe “Hum Hallelujah.” No. Not sad enough. “I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off.” Ah. Yes. Pete and Ashlee, watching Federer at the 2010 Open.
In the summer of 2020, a few years after Wentz gave the Charlotte Observer interview, paparazzi started catching him at the courts. Guy must’ve trained privately for nearly three years before his public debut. Worth it. Bunned hair. Nike shoes, Puma shorts, Adidas hat. You could easily convince me that this guy is like Paul Bettany’s Wimbledon character—a one-time ranked player who kinda sucks now, but could be redeemed by Kirsten Dunst.
Wentz is known to enjoy a water break. At this point in our journey, you should take one, too.
Here’s a battle for the ages. What’s likely the postgame to Wentz v. Gavin Rossdale v. small dog. ESPN couldn’t get a crew to this one, so we don’t know exactly what went down. But it raises a larger question. Is there an underground, Fight Club-esque legion of ’90s and ’00s alt-rock stars who (instead of beat each other up) settle their beef via tennis? Has Chad Kroeger looked at Scott Stapp from the other side of a net? What does Billie Joe Armstrong’s backhand look like? How fast is Michelle Branch’s serve?
One last water break. With, presumably, the old men Wentz shouted out in the Observer talk.
Somewhere along the way, Wentz metamorphosed into an Asgardian god. The last step in the tennisication of Peter Lewis Kingston Wentz III—where he bleached his hair to look like the mane of a young Andre Agassi—went down around December 2020. It’s great. It’s beautiful. He’s a living, breathing Mario Tennis character. Wentz is everything you wanted to become in quarantine and more.
Here’s our man on April 5, 2021, having the goddamn time of his life.
Thnks fr th mmrs, Pete. Grow your hair out so long that you trip on it in the third set. Earn a Nike sponsorship. And an Adidas one. Puma, too. Smash a racket in half. Have a beer with Macchio and little Macchio to the 2021 Open. Challenge Scott Stapp to a game and kick his fucking ass. Keep doing what you love. We’ll keep watching.
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