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Naomi Osaka is the latest tennis player to support Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’

Zendaya’s new film ‘Challengers’ features her playing a talented tennis player.

Maria Loreto
Senior Writer
MAY 2, 2024 5:29 PM EDT

Naomi Osaka is a “Challengers” fan. The Japanese tennis player is the latest female player to show her support of Zendaya’s new film, which is set in the world of tennis. Osaka shared her approval of the movie on social media, where she recreated its poster to the delight of many viewers.

Osaka shared a TikTok video set to the soundtrack of “Challengers,” showing her playing tennis in slowmotion as the dance music plays on. At the start of the clip, Osaka peers over the edge of her sunglasses. It’s a moment that’s in the film and that’s featured in its poster, with Zendaya looking at her co-stars Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist.

Viewers loved Osaka’s video and remarked on the fact that Zendaya has interacted with various black tennis stars as she’s been promoting her film. “Venus being at the premier, Serena showing love, Coco turning into a film reviewer after she saw it and now Naomi?! Z is collecting the tennis It Girls like infinity stones,” wrote a viewer.

Challengers Trio Kickoff Summer Movie Season in the Big Apple© GettyImages
The cast of Challengers

The inspiration behind ‘Challengers’

“Challengers” is a sports movie that follows the relationship between tennis players Tashi Duncan (Zendaya), Patrick Zweig (O’Connor), and Art Donaldson (Faist). While the film characters aren’t based on real players, the film’s screenwriter explained that the idea for the movie was inspired on a real life event, specifically on the match between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka, reports Business Insider.

Screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes was inspired by the US Open women’s final in 2018, where Osaka came out victorious over Williams. Osaka’s win was eclipsed by the umpire, who gave Williams three code violations mid-match. “Immediately, this struck me as this intensely cinematic situation where you’re all alone on your side of the court and there’s this one other person in this massive tennis stadium who cares as much about what happens to you as you do, but you can’t talk to them,” said Kuritzkes. “For whatever reason, it just clicked in my mind.”