Is Challengers a True Story? No, But Zendaya's Tennis Movie Was Partially Inspired By a Real Couple

Zendaya’s erotic new tennis movie Challengers is turning more heads than volleys at Wimbledon.

In the film, Zendaya’s character Tashi is the ultimate tennis It-girl until a crushing injury forces her to the sidelines, where she serves as her husband Art’s tennis coach. However, when Art (Mike Faist) finds himself on a losing streak after recovering from his own injury, she enters him into a low-stakes competition to get his head back in the game. Instead, the couple find themselves in a sexually charged conundrum when Art has to face off against his ex best friend and Tashi’s ex flame Patrick (Josh O’Connor).

The movie hit theaters on April 26 and has already scored rave reviews—but what if I told you Zendaya and Faist’s characters were partially inspired by a real-life former tennis couple? Do you think you’d be able to guess which one? Keep in mind, we’re talking about tennis dynamics here, not the threesomes and love triangles.

Although screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes realized tennis was “cinematic” while watching Naomi Osaka defeat Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open, it turns out Tashi’s backstory has a lot in common with Roger Federer’s wife Mirka Federer.

In an interview with GQ, Kuritzkes said he was struck by Mirka’s “stressed out” expressions during her husband’s 2019 Wimbledon match against Novak Djokovic. He said, “I was watching her and just thinking, ‘Why are you so stressed out? You guys have all the money in the world. You’ve won 20 grand slams. What’s so stressful to you? It has to be something else.’”

Image may contain Mirka Federer Head Person Face Accessories Jewelry Ring Sad Adult and Child

Mirka Federer on Centre Court during Men’s Finals Day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships on July 14, 2019.

Karwai Tang/Getty Images

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