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Zendaya to star in new tennis film 'Challengers'
The upcoming romantic drama is set in the fictional world of the Challenger tour, one of the lowest tiers of professional men’s tennis.
Published Feb 17, 2022
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Zendaya is rising up the rankings fast, and now she’s ready to make her main draw debut: the Emmy-winning actress is set to star in a new romantic drama set in the world of professional tennis.
The Dune star is one of the most sought-after talents in Hollywood at the moment after her stellar performances on HBO’s Euphoria, and she’s recently scored a big box office win as MJ in Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Now, Zendaya is set to star in the tennis-themed film Challengers, alongside Josh O’Connor and West Side Story star Mike Faist.
Here’s the film synopsis, according to Variety:
"The film centers on the competitive world of pro tennis, in which player-turned-coach Tashi (Zendaya) has transformed her husband Art (Faist) into a Grand Slam champion. After a losing streak, Tashi enters him into a “Challenger” event — the lowest pro tournament level — where he must face off against Patrick (O’Connor), Tashi’s former boyfriend and his former best friend."
Directed by Luca Guadagnino, Challengers will take place on a backdrop analogous to the ATP Challenger Tour, which bills itself as “the stepping stone to the ATP Tour”. Players looking to boost their rankings or break out of the ITF circuit—which, in reality, is the lowest rung of professional tennis—fight for precious points every week at Challenger events around the world. The fictional art wouldn’t be the first top player to contest a Challenger or two as he makes his way back to form: two-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray and former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori have both done so in recent years after injury layoffs.
Tennis has long been a favorite subject of filmmakers—who can forget Wimbledon (2004), which starred Kirsten Dunst and actually filmed scenes at the All-England Club? But now, there seem to be more cameras on the sport than ever before: King Richard, a biographical drama based on Richard Williams, recently snapped up six Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actor nod for Will Smith. Both Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, and Borg vs McEnroe with Shia LaBeouf, were box office favorites in 2017.
Not to mention all the real-life tennis drama being captured by Netflix for an upcoming docuseries about the sport—starring the actual players of the ATP and WTA Tours.
Production on Challengers is set to begin later this spring.