Is Zendaya's new film 'Challengers' based on a true story?

26 April 2024, 11:38

Is Zendaya's new film 'Challengers' based on a true story?
Is Zendaya's new film 'Challengers' based on a true story? Picture: Warner Bros

By Anna Suffolk

Zendaya's steamy new film Challengers has set pulses racing across the world, but is the movie based on a true story or a book? Is Zendaya's character Tashi based on a real person? Here's everything you need to know.

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Zendaya has another huge film release to add to her incredible filmography - Luca Guadagnino's Challengers, which also stars Mike Faist (West Side Story) and Josh O'Connor (The Crown).

The 27-year-old plays Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy-turned-coach, whose marriage to another tennis champion Art (Faist) takes a turn after he faces Tashi's former flame and washed-up player named Patrick on the court (O'Connor).

The hotly-anticipated film is now out in cinemas, and fans have started speculating the origins of the movie. So, is Challengers based on a true story or not and is it based on a book? Here's the rundown of everything you need to know.

Josh O'Connor & Zendaya in 'Challengers'.
Josh O'Connor & Zendaya in 'Challengers'. Picture: Warner Bros

Is Challengers a true story?

Fans have been theorising whether Challengers is actually based on a true story or not, and we have the answer for you.

Challengers is not based on a true story, and is an original screenplay from Justin Kuristzkes, who is married to Celine Song (Past Lives). He told Radio Times that the characters are completely fictional, however he was inspired by real life events and figures in the tennis world.

"I was watching the US Open in 2018 and it was the final between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams," he said. "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. And 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” he told the publication.

Zendaya, Josh & Mike in Milan.
Zendaya, Josh & Mike in Milan. Picture: Warner Bros

Zendaya steps out for Challengers press tour in New York

Is Challengers based on a book?

Screenwriter Kuristzkes revealed he took inspiration for Challengers from the book Open by Andre Agassi, as it went into lots of detail about the game.

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," he said to Radio Times.

"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.”

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