Pickleball is growing more than ever and it’s no longer just a fringe sport with a funny name. It’s become a mainstream sport that’s played in every one of the 50 states and many countries around the world. Several celebrities and well-known people in fashion, tech, professional sports and popular culture are picking up a paddle and hitting the courts.
While you could argue that it’s the celebrities that are helping to fuel the popularity of pickleball, many long-time players would say it’s because pickleball has already grown so much since its beginnings in 1965 that all kinds of people are starting to play – including the rich and famous.
Some of the people on this list may not come as much of a surprise to you – some of them have been interviewed on major television networks, professed their love of pickleball to their millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter and other social media. There have also been a few celebrity matches for charity events and public relations of major sporting brands that we mentioned below.
Even so, we think you might be surprised to see the number of famous people that are now playing pickleball.
Celebrity Pickleball Players
Bill & Melinda Gates
William Henry “Bill” Gates III and Melinda Gates are American philanthropists and co-founders of the biggest private foundation in the world, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Bill Gates is known for being the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, along with his childhood friend Paul Allen. Microsoft became the largest personal computer software company globally. He has also been named the world’s richest person by Forbes from 1995 to 2017, except in four of those years.
Melinda Gates, on the other hand, started as a marketing manager of Microsoft. Later on, she became the General Manager but decided to leave the company that same year to focus on the family they’re starting. She also debuted as an author in 2019 with the book entitled The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. She is also considered as one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes.
Bill & Melinda Gates got married in 1994 in Lanai, Hawaii. They have three children – Jennifer, Phoebe, and Rory. When they are not working on the foundation, one of their favorite fun activities is Pickleball!
Bill is known to have played tennis for a long time but must be getting more serious about Pickleball, I’ve heard they own a Simon – know as one of the best pickleball machines on the market – that’s not surprising for a guy who appreciates solid hardware and quality engineering.
Ellen DeGeneres is an American television host. Her currently-running daytime show, Ellen (The Ellen DeGeneres Show), started back in 2003. It is a comedy talk show that has already been nominated for Daytime Emmy Award 171 times. It has won 61 of them; four times for Outstanding Talk Show and seven times for Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment. It also won 17 People’s Choice Awards.
Ellen is also an actress, writer, and producer. She starred in films Mr. Wrong, EDtv, and The Love Letter. She was also behind the voice of Dory in the animated films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. She was also one of the judges on the ninth season of American Idol.
She was interviewed here admitting that she is totally “obsessed” with pickleball. She mentions that her lower back is hurting – sounds like she might need to get a ball picker-upper!
Jenna Bush Hager
Jenna Bush Hager is the daughter of former US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. She has a twin sister, Barbara. She is married to Henry Hager, and gave birth to three children Margaret Laura “Mila”, Poppy Louise, and Henry Harold “Hal”.
She’s made a name for herself as a news personality, journalist, and author. She is the co-host of NBC’s morning news program TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. She is also a correspondent, contributor, and co-host of NBC’s The Today Show.
Jenna is also the editor-at-large for Southern Living Magazine, and the writer of the books entitled Ana’s Story: A Journey of Home and Read All About It!, and her memoir titled Everything Beautiful in Its Time.
In this video (might take a bit to load), she explains how the whole extended Bush family and friends play in a pickleball tournament.
Nick Foles (NFL)
Nicholas Edward “Nick” Foles is currently the quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). Before such, he played for Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, and for Philadelphia Eagles from 2017 to 2018, and back in 2012 to 2014. He also played for Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, and St. Louis Rams in 2015.
Nick was named the Super Bowl MVP (LII) in 2017 when the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots and became the Super Bowl LII champion. He was also named the Pro Bowl Offensive MVP in the Pro Bowl Selection in 2013. In a game back in 2013, he made history for throwing seven touchdowns in a single game. Nick also holds the record for 25 consecutive pass completions.
Quoted here as saying that pickleball helps him keep in shape in the offseason.
Kim Kardashian was a friend and stylist of Paris Hilton. However, after a scandal in 2007, her family starred in a reality television series titled Keeping Up with the Kardashians on E! Cable network.
The series started back in October 2007 and has become one of the longest-running US reality TV shows. Because of its success, spin-off series Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Kourtney and Kim Take Miami were created.
She is married to American rapper Kanye West, with whom she has four kids: North, Chicago, Saint, and Psalm.
Here’s a quick video of her on the court and some confusion about pickleball scoring!
TONIGHT ON E! pic.twitter.com/RFuEymx5WX
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) April 7, 2019
Giuliana and Bill Rancic
Guiliana DePandi Rancic is an Italian-American TV personality and one of the anchors of E! News. She is also an entrepreneur who launched multiple businesses including: Fountain of Truth, G by Guiliana, Guiliana Prosecco, Fab U-Wish, and RPM Restaurants.
Guiliana is married to Bill Rancic who was the first winner of NBC’s reality show The Apprentice. In an interview, Guiliana admitted that she had already been obsessing over Bill when the latter starred on The Apprentice. As such, she was very excited when she was assigned to interview Bill for E! News. After the said interview in 2005, they began dating and got engaged in 2006. The following year, they got married at Sancta Sophia Church in Anacapri.
The two published a book in 2010 titled I Do, Now What?: Secrets, Stories, and Advice from a Madly-in-Love Couple. They also hosted NBC’s reality show Ready for Love in 2013.
They’ve been seen multiple times on Instagram on the pickleball court and showing off medals.
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Jillian Michaels is a renowned personal trainer and TV personality. She is best known for being the original trainer on The Biggest Loser. She also hosted NBC’s Losing It With Jillian. She also co-hosted The Doctors and hosted the segment Ask Jillian on CBS.
Jillian has also published several books on health fitness such as The 6 Keys: Unlock Your Genetic Potential for Ageless Strength, Health, and Beauty, Making the Cut: The 30-Day Diet and Fitness Plan for the Strongest, Sexiest You and Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!
In this video, you can see her getting serious about playing pickleball!
Speaking of losing weight – read about how Pickleball helped Amy lose OVER 100 pounds!
Gary Vaynerchuk (GaryVee) with Andre Agassi
While these two are not regular pickleball players, their appearance together in 2018 in Austin Texas did make the rounds and brought some more attention to the sport. eBetween GaryVee’s expertise in is a social media and Agassi’s legendary tennis carrerr
Gennady “Gary” Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur and internet personality. He is the chairman of the communications company VaynerX and the CEO of its subsidiary advertising agency VaynerMedia. He is also the co-founder of Resy and Empathy Wines, which is a restaurant reservation software company. He also launched a Sirius XM satellite radio channel Wine & Web.
As a speaker, Gary hosted Wine Library TV, The #AskGaryVeeShow, and DailyVee on Youtube. He already has three million subscribers on his YouTube channel, GaryVee.
Gary is also an author and his published books include Crushing It! How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business, Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion; and Gary Vaynerchuk’s 101 Wines.
Andre Kirk Agassi is a retired professional tennis player. He’s a former No. 1 in singles, an eight-time Grand Slam champion, and an Olympic gold medalist. Because of his success in tennis, he was nicknamed The Punisher. In 2006, he retired after losing to Benjamin Becker in the US Open. At that time, he was already suffering from sciatica.
Back in 1994, Andre founded the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education (formerly Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation), which aims to provide quality education to the underserved youth. By 2001, the said foundation opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy (Agassi Prep) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If you’ve played tennis and you haven’t read his Autobiography? OPEN, I recommend it. Gives you a closer look into his amazing dedication and grit but also somewhat heartbreaking how his father pushed him so hard to make him a champion – even when his son had mostly lost interest in tennis
Novak Djokovic with Robbie Williams
Another paid of Celebrities that don’t regularly play but did stir up a buzz about pickleball a few years ago when they hit the ball around on an impromptu pickleball court at a charity event organized by Lacoste.
As some of our followers on Instagram at the time pointed out “it wasn’t real pickleball!” due to the lack of a kitchen or general rule-following – but was still cool to see one of the top tennis players of all time – and a cool singer give the sport some free press.
Novak Djokovic probably needs no introduction for most people but just in case – he’s a professional tennis player who currently (March 2021) holds the world No. 1 spot in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) ranking. He also holds the No. 1 at a record-high of 311 weeks. He is also the only player who completed the ATP Golden Masters, which is a series of nine top-level tournaments. He even did so twice.
Recognizing his tennis prowess, he has been awarded the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year four times and received the Order of St. Sava, the Order of Karadorde’s Star, and the Order of the Republika Srpska.
Novak is married to Jelena Ristić and has two kids: Stefan and Tara. The couple founded the Novak Djokovic Foundation (NDF), which aims to provide quality early childhood education in Serbia.
Robert Peter “Robbie” Williams is an English singer-songwriter. He started as a member of Take That pop group then decided to go solo in 1996. His solo career is indeed a success, having released seven singles and 11 out of 12 albums that became Number one in the UK. He also landed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 after selling 1.6 million tickets in a single day for his Close Encounters Tour.
Robbie also received 18 BRIT (British Record Industry Trusts) Awards – four of which for Best British Male Artist, two for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and a Brits Icon in 2017 for his “lasting impact on British culture”. He also has eight German ECHO Awards, and three MTV European Music Awards. He has also been included in the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
I’m sure we missed a few and as the sport grows there will be most celebrity sightings on the pickleball court but for now, that’s still a pretty impressive list.
Plase leave your comment below if you know of any other pickleball-playing celebrities.