Zendaya Receives Serena Williams’ Verdict on Tennis Skills in “Challengers”

Actress shares tennis legend’s feedback on her performance in Luca Guadagnino’s latest film

Zendaya, renowned for her roles across genres, including her portrayal of tennis player-turned-coach Tashi Duncan in Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” recently disclosed Serena Williams’ impressions of her tennis skills in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Reflecting on her conversation with the legendary athlete, Zendaya recounted Williams’ acknowledgment, stating, “She was like, ‘I know there definitely weren’t real [tennis] balls.’ She knows. She’s the best of the best.” Despite the cinematic illusion, Williams commended Zendaya, acknowledging the challenge of the role. Zendaya shared Williams’ praise, recalling, “She did say that it was great considering that I had never, never touched a tennis ball before.”

The romantic sports comedy, co-starring Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, revolves around “three players who knew each other when they were teenagers as they compete in a tennis tournament to be the world-famous grand slam winner and reignite old rivalries on and off the court,” according to the film’s synopsis.

Zendaya, expressing pre-screening nerves regarding Williams’ assessment of her tennis prowess, preemptively apologized to Williams and her sister Venus Williams. At the Los Angeles premiere of “Challengers,” Zendaya revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she sought advice from her “Dune” co-star Timothée Chalamet regarding working with Guadagnino. Chalamet, who collaborated with Guadagnino on “Call Me By Your Name,” praised the director, endorsing the collaboration as a perfect fit for Zendaya.

With anticipation building, “Challengers” is set to hit theaters on April 26, promising a blend of romance, competition, and the timeless allure of tennis.

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