July 24, 2024
Serena Williams

When it comes to Zendaya’s tennis skills, Serena Williams gave the Challengers star her stamp of approval.
“She did say that it was great considering that I had never, never touched a tennis ball before,” Zendaya, 27, told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Friday, April 19.

Zendaya noted that Williams, 42, also took notice of the magic of filmmaking. “She was like, ‘I know there definitely weren’t real [tennis] balls,” Zendaya said. “She knows. She’s the best of the best.”

While Zendaya received praise from Serena, the actress noted that she hadn’t spoken with Venus Williams about the film yet. Zendaya added that “fingers crossed” Venus, 43, would also approve of her abilities.

When Venus showed up to the Los Angeles premiere of Challengers, Zendaya admitted to being starstruck by her appearance. “I heard that she came and I was like, ‘No way, this is the coolest thing!’ So I’m very nervous ’cause I know Serena has seen the movie but I’m very nervous about her seeing my tennis,” Zendaya told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Thursday, April 18.

During her press tour for Challengers, Zendaya paid tribute to the tennis greats by recreating their looks from an iconic 1998 Vogue shoot.

In the spread, Serena and Venus had posed in matching black-and-white Carolina Herrera gowns, pairing the look with white beads in their hair, which was a signature style for them in the early days of their careers. Zendaya, for her part, stunned in the same Carolina Herrera dress and beaded wig by Kim Kimble.

Challengers centers around Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), who’s caught up in a love triangle with her ex Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) and her husband Art Donaldson (Mike Faist). After experiencing an injury, Tashi pours her energy into transforming Art into a Grand Slam champion and enters him into a “Challenger” event where he faces off against Patrick.

Ahead of filming Challengers, Zendaya reportedly trained for months. “She’s wonderful,” director Luca Guadagnino told Variety in October 2022. “I mean, wow. We edited the movie and we almost actually don’t use any of her double. She’s so good.”

Zendaya previously gushed that she was excited about taking on more mature roles, like portraying her character Tashi. “From a character perspective, I want to find things that will push me,” she told Elle in August 2023. “As I get older, you know, I can’t play a teenager for the rest of my life.”

Challengers hits theaters on Friday, April 26.

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