Zendaya Shines as Powerful Tennis Coach in Luca Guadagnino's 'Challengers'

Zendaya shines in Luca Guadagnino's "Challengers," a captivating sports drama exploring the complex relationships and rivalries between a tennis player-turned-coach and two top players. The film showcases Zendaya's acting range and the director's visual style.

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Zendaya Shines as Powerful Tennis Coach in Luca Guadagnino's 'Challengers'

Zendaya Shines as Powerful Tennis Coach in Luca Guadagnino's 'Challengers'

Zendaya delivers a commanding performance as Tashi Duncan, an unapologetically powerful tennis player turned coach, in Luca Guadagnino's new romantic sports film 'Challengers'. The movie, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, explores the complex relationships and rivalries between Tashi and two top tennis players, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O'Connor).

The story is structured around a pivotal 2019 tennis match between Art and Patrick, with flashbacks filling in their complicated history involving Tashi. As a central figure in their friendship, rivalry, and romantic entanglement over the years, Zendaya's Tashi is a woman in control of her own destiny. "Zendaya stars as Tashi Duncan, an unapologetically powerful tennis player turned coach, in Luca Guadagnino's romantic sports film 'Challengers'," reports Variety.

Why this matters: 'Challengers' showcases Zendaya's range as an actress and her ability to take on complex, multidimensional roles. The film's exploration of ambition, jealousy, and the dynamics between athletes and coaches is a fresh take on the sports drama genre.

Director Luca Guadagnino brings his signature visual style to the film, capturing the tennis matches in a kinetic, delirious fashion. The performances of the three lead actors have been praised, with Zendaya's steely presence anchoring the film. "Zendaya's performance as Tashi, a complex and multidimensional character, has been praised," notes The Hollywood Reporter.

Zendaya, who also serves as a producer on the film, worked closely with Guadagnino to bring his vision to life. "Zendaya, who is also a producer on the film, says she felt free to suggest and bring in ideas, and that Guadagnino was extremely collaborative," reports Vanity Fair. The actress also dedicated herself to mastering the unique footwork and body movements of top tennis players for her role.

'Challengers' has drawn attention for its fashion as well, with Zendaya and her stylist Law Roach paying tribute to iconic tennis figures like Venus and Serena Williams and Althea Gibson through the costumes. The film aims to present complex characters that are not necessarily likable, challenging audiences to avoid quick judgments.

While 'Challengers' was originally scheduled for release last fall, it was pushed due to the Hollywood labor strikes. This delay has allowed the film to stand out from the crowded field of Oscar hopefuls. Critics have praised the movie as a "purely enjoyable romantic drama" that defies easy labels, blending elements of screwball comedy, sports movie, and more.

With its sizzling chemistry between the lead actors, intense on-court sequences, and exploration of the

Key Takeaways

  • Zendaya delivers a commanding performance as tennis player Tashi in 'Challengers'.
  • The film explores complex relationships and rivalries between Tashi, Art, and Patrick.
  • Zendaya's performance has been praised for its complexity and multidimensionality.
  • 'Challengers' offers a fresh take on the sports drama genre with its visual style.
  • The film has been delayed but is now standing out in the crowded Oscar race.