How to watch Zendaya’s new movie Challengers

Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino serves up a tennis comedy-drama

Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor sitting on a bed in a scene from Challengers
Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O’Connor star in Challengers. (Warner Bros./MGM)

After two films with Timothée Chalamet, filmmaker Luca Guadagnino joins forces with the actor’s Dune co-star Zendaya for his latest feature, the tennis comedy-drama Challengers — which is out now in UK cinemas.

The film boasts an all-star leading cast and looks set to follow in the footsteps of Guadagnino’s award-winning track record. In 2017, the filmmaker brought us Call Me By Your Name with Chalamet and earned himself a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.

Since then, he’s remade 1977’s giallo horror Suspiria and reteamed with Chalamet for cannibal drama Bones And All, yet neither has managed to cause a critical splash quite as large as Call Me By Your Name. However, with Challengers already prompting awards-season chatter, perhaps his latest will be the film to change that track record?

Here’s everything you know about Zendaya’s new film, including its plot, cast, trailers and more.

Zendaya as Tashi in Challengers (Warner Bros./MGM)
Dune star Zendaya steps into the role of tennis star Tashi Duncan. (Warner Bros./MGM)

Challengers arrived in UK cinemas on Friday, 26 April. It was originally due to be released in September 2023 but was pushed back due to the Hollywood strikes.

No streaming date has been confirmed as of yet.

Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor at Claridges Hotel in London
The film has already received Oscar buzz. (Getty)

The time has arrived to step into the court and find out whether Challengers hits it out of the park or serves up a dud. Thankfully, it’s the former that seems to be true, with those who have seen sneak previews having a great time with Guadagnino’s latest.

Our tennis-pun-filled round-up is pretty much exclusively positive, with the Evening Standard’s review leaving sub-text court-side and letting us know that in this movie, the “tennis is all about sex, power, and control.” The Telegraph labelled it “the most purely pleasurable film of the year so far,” with The Independent suggesting that the movie “ triggers an intoxication.” Meanwhile, Total Film praised the quality of its performances, calling Challengers “a virtual grand slam.”

Read the full reviews below:

Evening Standard: Zendaya's sexy tennis drama serves up a treat (4-min read)

The Telegraph: Zendaya’s tennis love triangle serves up racquet-twanging steaminess (3-min read)

The Independent: Zendaya leads a thrilling, intoxicating and extravagantly sexy tennis psychodrama (4-min read)

Total Film: A pulsating tale that's sure to get deuces flowing (2-min read)

The latest trailer for Challengers dropped in February 2024 and provided another look at the competitive throuple at the core of Guadagnino’s new movie.

Steamy and angsty, it set the stage nicely for what’s sure to be a tension-filled film. Watch the trailer below:

The first trailer for Challengers hit the internet in June 2023 and gave us our first glimpse at Guadagnino’s new story, soundtracked by Rihanna’s track S&M. In it, we see Tashi rise up the ranks of professional tennis before an injury forces her to pivot and focus her efforts behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, we watch a love-triangle brew between Tashi, Art and Patrick before shooting forward a few years to witness the new tournament at the heart of the movie. Watch the full trailer below.

Zendaya poses for a photocall the Monte Carlo Country Club
Zendaya trained for three months to prepare for her role in Challengers. (AFP via Getty)

Challengers has been billed as a sports-themed romantic drama but if Guadagnino’s back catalogue — and its trailers — are anything to go by, we’re sure it’ll involve undertones of relationship politics, identity and sexual tension.

Dune and the MCU’s Spider-Man star Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, a former tennis star who has since turned her attention to coaching. As part of this new role, she’s managed to transform her new boyfriend Art into a professional player and pits him against her old flame — and his former best friend — Patrick, for a “friendly” championship match.

According to the film’s official synopsis, Zendaya’s character does this “to jolt [her husband] out of his recent losing streak.”

Duncan is described as “a force of nature who makes no apologies for her game on and off the court.” Chronicling a timespan of 13 years, Duncan is forced to make big decisions as the competitive nature of her personal life begins to heat up.

Director Luca Guadagnino on the set of Challengers
The comedy-drama was helmed by Italian director Luca Guadagnino. (Warner Bros./MGM)

As far as the plot goes, that’s all we currently know but Guadagnino has previously called the story “sexy and fun.” Zendaya produced the project and reportedly trained for three months with former professional tennis player Brad Gilbert in order to get ready for the role.

Elsewhere, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor will once again reteam with his frequent movie-score collaborator Atticus Ross to create the film’s music, continuing a partnership Guadagnino first forged whilst making 2022’s Bones and All.

They’re the same duo behind the earworm soundtracks for films like The Social Network, Pixar’s Soul and HBO’s Watchmen TV series.

 Josh O'Connor, Zendaya, and Mike Faist attend the UK premiere of Challengers
Josh O’Connor (left) rose to fame in Netflix royal drama The Crown. (Anadolu via Getty)

Zendaya appears centre court in Challengers, starring as Tashi Duncan, a professional tennis player who has moved on to coaching other players.

One of her star students is her husband Art Donaldson, played by Mike Faist, an actor you’ll likely recognise from Stephen Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story.

Rounding out the film’s three-star primary cast is Josh O’Connor as Patrick, Tashi’s old flame and Art’s ex-best-friend. O’Connor played a young Prince Charles in seasons three and four of Netflix’s The Crown.

While that’s it for the film’s main players, Guadagnino apparently hosted an open call for actors to play tennis players, extras and stand-ins during the film’s Boston shoot — so Zendaya, O’Connor and Faist won’t be the only faces we see in Challengers.

Challengers is out now in UK cinemas