Challengers gives Zendaya better Oscar nomination shout than Dune

Zendaya Challengers
Zendaya in a scene from the United Artists Releasing new movie : Challengers (2023).

Tennis-themed film Challengers has received critical plaudits since it served up a fresh take on the sport in cinemas last month and now it seems like it might earn its star a big Oscar nod.

Zendaya apologised to Serena and Venus Williams for her tennis skills but said that the former had given her the OK, considering her experience with a racket in hand.

Serena spied out areas where the film had clearly been altered but still insisted she was a fan of the movie.

“She was like, ‘I know there definitely weren’t real [tennis] balls,” Zendaya told ET.

“She knows. She’s the best of the best.

“She did say that it was great considering that I had never, never touched a tennis ball before,” she added.

In the film by director Luca Guadagnino, Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy-turned-coach who mentors Mike Faist’s character, pro tennis star Art Donaldson.

Bookmakers feel that Challengers gives Zendaya a better shot at an Oscar than her blockbuster turn in Dune.

However there is a feeling that Challengers might be a little too steamy to get too much attention from the Academy.

“The motion picture is arguably Zendaya’s first foray as the main lead of a huge movie, after her ensemble appearances in the Spider-Man and Dune film franchises,” Bookies told

“Her pulsating performance in the steamy film has certainly created plenty of positive attention, but will Academy voters be too distracted by the sexy scenes to give credence to the movie’s artistic qualities?

“Zendaya has already had a busy year of theatrical releases. She is also a huge character in Dune: Part Two, which is the highest-grossing movie of this year so far, with $708.8 million at the worldwide box office.

“This will also no doubt lead to some potential Oscar attention in 2025, especially if the first Dune movie is anything to go by.

“Dune was released in 2021 and was a huge hit at the 2022 Academy Awards, scooping six accolades – Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects.

“While Dune: Part Two will very much be in the conversation again, Challengers could be Zendaya’s best chance of an individual Oscar.

“The tennis film is 4/6 favourite to be more likely to land an Academy Award for the actress than Dune: Part Two (6/4) is.

“There is even a slim chance Zendaya could have another go at next year’s Oscars.”

READ MORE: Top tennis coach opens up about coaching Zendaya for ‘Challengers’ role