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Naomi Osaka channels Zendaya in Challengers



Naomi Osaka channels Zendaya in Challengers
Robert Prange/Getty Images

Naomi Osaka does her best Zendaya impression.

In a video posted on TikTok on Thursday, May 2, the four-time Grand Slam champion, 26, paid tribute in a playful way Challengersthe hit romantic drama starring Zendaya as a tennis phenom caught in a steamy love triangle.

“Nobody: Me after watching ChallengersOsaka captioned her post, in which she donned her sunglasses, twirled her racket and showed off her serve. For the background music, she chose the super-intensive synth score from the film.

Recently, the film’s screenwriter, Justin Kuritzkessaid he was inspired to write the script after watching Osaka beat her idol, Serena Williams, in an upset victory at the 2018 US Open. Osaka was 20 years old at the time – a child prodigy like Zendaya’s character, Tashi Duncan, although Kuritzkes did not base Tashi on Osaka. Her famous sweeping match with Williams, however, was a different story.

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Zendaya brings the drama from the tennis court to the red carpet as she promotes her new movie, Challengers. The Emmy winner stars as Tashi Duncan in the drama, directed by Luca Guadagnino, a tennis prodigy whose career is cut short by an injury. She starts coaching and eventually turns her husband (Mike Faist) into one […]

“This immediately struck me as an intensely cinematic situation where you’re all alone on your side of the court and there’s another person in this huge tennis stadium who cares as much about what’s happening to you as you do, but you can’ Don’t talk to them,” Kuritzkes said at a press conference last month, per Business insider.


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♬ Challengers [MIXED] (Challengers Soundtrack) – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross & Boys Noize

The match was infamously tense, with fan favorite Williams arguing with the chair umpire Carlos Ramos for committing her three code violations. “[Y]You stole a point from me, you are a thief too,” she told Ramos.

After the match, which Osaka won 6-2, 6-4, the rivals stood side by side as observers in the stands booed the result. Osaka covered her face with her visor and cried. Williams hugged Osaka, who told the crowd, “I know everyone was cheering [Williams]. I’m sorry it had to end this way. I just wanted to thank you for watching the game.”

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That’s when, Kuritzkes said, the story was born Challengers clicked in his mind. “Well, what if you really want to talk about something? And what if it was something other than just tennis?” he explained. “What if it was something going on between the two of you? And what if it concerns the person on the other side of the net? How would you have that conversation and how would you convey the tension of that situation using the tools specific to film?”

The drama-in Challengers revolves around a pivotal game between former best friends Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), who is married to Tashi, his coach. Adding to the tension, Patrick is the former lover she can’t stop dating. The film, directed by Luca Guadagninoopened No. 1. in theaters last weekend.

(If Osaka wants to make another tribute on social media, she might consider wearing the “I TOLD YA” T-shirt that Zendaya made viral.)