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Naomi Osaka imitates Zendaya’s character in Challengers: ‘Me after watching’

‘Challengers’ officially hits theatres in the US on 26 April

Amber Raiken
New York
Friday 03 May 2024 20:14 BST
Related: Naomi Osaka Withdraws From French Open

Naomi Osaka has hilariously recreated a moment from the hit tennis psychodrama, Challengers.

The 26-year-old tennis star shared a video to TikTok on Tuesday to celebrate the new movie, where Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, a tennis player turned coach. In her video, Osaka was wearing a white cap and a pair of black sunglasses, which she slightly took off her face as she looked toward the camera.

The video went on to show Osaka on the tennis court, as she was wearing a brown sweater and matching sweatpants. She also had her racket in hand, while she jumped up in the air and served the ball.

Toward the end of the clip, she twirled her racket around and tied her hair back, references to moments in Challengers. The video was also set to one of the songs from the film, “Challengers” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Osaka quipped about how her moves on the court were inspired by the movie, as the text over the video read: “No one: Me after watching Challengers.”

Multiple fans in the comments expressed their amusement over Osaka’s videos, as they joked about how she should be a tennis player.

“Your form is so good!! You should pursue tennis professionally,” one wrote, while another added: “Your serve is so clean. Have you considered professional tennis by any chance?”

Challengers’ official TikTok page also commented: “Iconic.”

When Challengers’ official Instagram posted the video of Osaka, Zendaya reposted that clip to her own Instagram Story and wrote: “lol.”

The tennis star’s video also came days after Challengers’ screenwriter, Justin Kuritzkes, revealed that Osaka helped inspire the film. More specifically, Kuritzkes shared at a press conference that the characters were not inspired by any real tennis players, noting that the film’s premise came from his fascination with the tennis match between Serena Williams and Osaka at the 2018 US Open.

“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,” Kuritzkes said, as reported by Business Insider.

“For whatever reason, it just clicked in my mind,” he continued. “Well, what if you really needed to talk about something? And what if it was something beyond tennis? What if it was something that was going on with the two of you? And what if it involved the person on the other side of the net? How would you have that conversation and how could you communicate the tension of that situation using the tools that are specific to film?”

The 2018 match saw Osaka, then 20, defeat tennis legend Williams in three straight sets to become the first Japanese tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title. Osaka’s historic moment, however, was dominated by Williams’s meltdown after the umpire gave her three code violations for receiving coaching, smashing her racquet in anger, and verbal abuse for accusing him of being a “thief” for docking her a point.

In Challengers, Tashi is training her husband Art, played by Mike Faist, into a tennis champion, following a mediocre season. However, things take a turn when Art has to go head to head on the court with his former best friend and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend, Patrick, played by Josh O’Connor.

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