Who knew that the 15-year-old Matthew Perry (of Friends fame) was one of the top three tennis juniors in Canada? Had fate taken a different course, someone else would have played that jokester Chandler Bing, Perry would be in the Wimbledon commentary box right now with Boris Becker perhaps or, everyone's favourite, the whimsical John McEnroe. Perry and McEnroe might not get along terribly well because Perry, despite being clever, funny and just so loveable in Bing mode, isn't always the easiest person to be around and has described his own on-court persona as "a moron, throwing my racket and getting angry". Which sounds terrifyingly familiar.
Being the third-best teenager in Canada was, however, a pretty big deal for a 15-year-old and it would certainly have been worth a British passport if he had been thinking along Greg Rusedski lines. But he suffered a crushing defeat in his first big tournament in Los Angeles and realised that his craving for fame ("I wanted it so much, I had steam coming out of my ears") required sating elsewhere.
His actor father (the guy in the Old Spice advertisements, among other, only slightly more prestigious, gigs) was possibly an inspiration and Perry found himself in Central Perk hanging out and drinking cappuccinos through much of the Nineties with his (and our) Friends, Monica, Ross, Joey, Phoebe and Rachel.
Yet he never entirely turned his back on his first love. Despite the well-documented prescription drug addiction and attendant dramatic weight fluctuations (sounds cruel I know, but part of the fun was monitoring Chandler's weight, and the splendid irony of 'The One With Monica in a Fat-Suit') he was well enough in 2003 to join Gabriela Sabatini, Annabel Croft and – yes, congratulaaations – Cliff Richard, in an exhibition doubles match in New York.
But what of his future? One idea comes to mind: he could take the title role in a John Bercow biopic. At 15, Bercow, too, was a top-ranked tennis junior, and might have gone professional if he had not stopped growing at 5ft 6in. Despite the height discrepancy (Perry is 6ft), 'The One Where Chandler Bing Becomes Speaker of The House of Commons', would surely make a great movie. After all, playing a parliamentary legend did Meryl Streep no harm at all.Reuse content