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Film star Zendaya chats her new love for tennis ahead of 'Challengers' release

• 2 MINUTE READ

Hollywood actress Zendaya has been at the fore of the tennis world over the last couple of months ahead of the release of the new tennis film 'Challengers' directed by Luca Guadagnino.

In a recent interview with tennis icon Tracy Austin for Tennis Channel, Zendaya admitted she had minimal knowledge of tennis prior to the film. However, since diving head first into the tennis world, the actress has highlighted her new-found appreciation for the sport and some of the world's best WTA's stars.

When asked by Austin why she chose to take on a tennis role, Zendaya admitted, “The idea of trying to tackle something that’s a physical challenge and a mental challenge and discover a new world being a part of the tennis world and learning more about was a pleasure.

"It was a scary challenge if anything and also incredibly stimulating emotionally and physically."

“I was not a tennis person before this. All I really knew was Serena Williams and Roger Federer. So, I just threw myself in there. I’ve pretty much seen every video, every match that’s online. It became my thing”.

Zendaya and her 'Challengers' co-stars Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist underwent an intense three month training program in preparation for the film. Brad Gilbert, former tennis champion and current coach of reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff, played a vital role in setting up and leading the training for the cast.

As a result of working with Gilbert, Zendaya opened up about her admiration for fellow countrywoman and world No.4 Gauff, admitting that she can relate to some of the pressures the 20-year-old has faced.

"I was very young when I started in my industry, so I relate to the idea of pressure and having all eyes on you. But in many ways, I couldn’t imagine the shoes she has to walk in as a tennis player and as a professional athlete.

“I remember when we were shooting our US Open scenes at the Billie Jean King Centre, I was absolutely terrified and I wasn’t actually playing.

"I’m so impressed by her composure, her strength and her poise and like I said, she’s so young and I think when I see young people who are in the public space, I just feel particularly protective”.

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Gauff isn’t the only WTA star that Zendaya has crossed paths with over the course of her 'Challengers' press tour. During her trip to the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, the 27-year-old was spotted in the stands watching the women’s singles final between Iga Swiatek and Maria Sakkari, before meeting up with the world No.1 shortly after she lifted her ninth WTA 1000 title in the Californian desert.

In a recent interview for Eurosport hosted by former British No.1 Laura Robson, Swiatek sent in a question for Zendaya, asking whether she believes there are any similarities between life as a Hollywood actress and a professional athlete.

 “I was really lucky to meet her at Indian Wells, she was so nice” Zendaya added. “When I watch her, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be out on that court and have all these people watching you and have to perform at such a high level, keep your composure and stay so focused.

“Of course we’re similar, I think it’s just different worlds, but I have a lot of respect for what it takes to do your work in front of the world – I definitely understand”.

The Challengers movie will be available to watch in UK cinemas from Friday 26 April 2024

“I was really lucky to meet her at Indian Wells, she was so nice” Zendaya added. “When I watch her, I can’t imagine what it must be like to be out on that court and have all these people watching you and have to perform at such a high level, keep your composure and stay so focused.

“Of course we’re similar, I think it’s just different worlds, but I have a lot of respect for what it takes to do your work in front of the world – I definitely understand”.

The Challengers movie will be available to watch in UK cinemas from Friday 26 April 2024.

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