More Than Just A Ranking: James Willstrop

More Than Just A Ranking is a series where we get a personal insight into squash players about more than just who they are on court.  

In the episode, we spoke with Squash Legend James Willstrop, about how he got into squash and his love for acting and theatre. 

“I was introduced to it by my parents and I loved being in school plays. I’ve always been a bit of a show off and I loved all aspects of performing. “ 

“When I had my hip surgery back in 2014, I went to the local theatre group near where I live, not with the intention to act but to get involved in something I loved. I ended up getting put in a play, I found out the schedule worked around the squash and I was hooked.” 


“[His first acting experience] was in front of 20 people in a little village hall and I got an absolute buzz out of it. When you do something so intensely like this [squash] for so many years there is so much repetition every day. I love squash so much, but you need something else and this [acting] is what I love doing.” 

“Some people would think it was the worst thing in the world, but I’ve always enjoyed getting up in front of people to speak or play, whatever it is.” 


It was through Jake Oldershaw, who runs Untied Artists. He’s a massive squash fan, he got to know about my love of the theatre and action and he got in touch through Zena Wooldridge [WSF President].  

“We then struck up a relationship and he had an idea for a play about the history of the game. It was talking about the likes of Jahangir [Khan], Jonah [Barrington] and we got school kids around Birmingham involved.  

“It was ahead of the Commonwealth Games, he got the funding, we got the go ahead and it was absolutely fantastic. It was a very special opportunity, I played myself which was funny and I did a little rap about the history of squash. 

“We had a great time and the kids were fantastic to work with. It got a lot of schools talking about the Commonwealth Games and squash for the first time. Sport, theatre and the arts are just so good for kids.”