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Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

The real-life inspiration behind Zendaya's character and her new film.

Challengers has finally been released in the UK after what feels like an eternity of waiting and we're already living for Zendaya in her tennis era as Tashi Duncan. Beyond the long roster of impeccable tennis themed outfits that we've been treated to on the press tour for the film, Challengers has us feeling all types of ways we didn't know we could about tennis, as well as reevaluating if three really is a crowd.

The film, starring Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist, spans a decade and explores the complicated dynamics (or should we say entanglements?) between their respective characters Tashi, Patrick and Art.

Tashi (Zendaya), a tennis prodigy turned coach, transforms her husband Art (Mike Faist) into a world-famous Grand Slam champion, AKA winner of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.

Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

But when Art finds himself in a losing streak, Tashi enters him into a “Challenger” event, the lowest level of a pro tournament, in an effort to help him get back to basics. Tensions quickly rise when Art finds himself playing a match against his former best friend and Tashi's ex Patrick (Josh O'Connor), the now washed-up tennis player.

In an interview with Vulture, Challengers screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes said “Although the stands at a Challenger are mostly empty, the players’ emotions are just as if they were at the U.S. Open because they’re fighting for their lives. It’s the humiliation of being a gladiator and nobody’s even there to watch you die."

So is Challengers based on a true story?

Get out your crispest tennis whites and dust off that racket, here's everything we know.

Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

Niko Tavernise

Is Challengers based on a true story?

While the film isn't based on a true story, its writer Justin Kuritzkes says that he took much inspiration for the script from a real tennis match.

The match in question? Naomi Osaka vs Serena Williams.

In an interview with Radio Times Kuritzkes recalled “I was watching the US Open in 2018 and it was the final between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams. And there was this really controversial call towards the end of the match where Serena Williams was penalised for receiving coaching from the sidelines, and she got very upset and said that didn't happen. But the ref still penalised her."

Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

Niko Tavernise / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

He explains, " I had never heard of that rule – that you're not allowed to speak with your coach during the match. And immediately it struck me as really cinematic."

Despite taking inspiration from the moment for Challengers, Kuritzkes specifically notes that none of the characters in the film have real-life counterparts, explaining “the characters are completely fictional".

However, he adds “reading Andre Agassi's book Open was a massive inspiration for the movie, because it's so hyper-specific about the life of an athlete and the feeling of being at the top of your game, and falling out of love with the sport and still having to do it. And I think that was really… that felt really fresh to me. I had never heard somebody describe a life in sports like that. So stuff like that was very inspiring.”

You can watch the most recent Challengers trailer below:

Challengers hits UK cinemas on 26 April.

Is Challengers based on a true story? Well, kind of

Zendaya served three stunning looks in one day for the Paris premiere of ChallengersView Gallery