Zendaya Coleman is only 27 years old, but the California native has a knack for playing roles that require her to reach new levels of maturity. In HBO’s Euphoria, she plays troubled addict teen Rue, and earlier this year she appeared in the highly anticipated Dune: Part Two. For her latest project, Coleman stars in Challengers, a sports romance that already has an 88% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, though audiences are ranking it lower at 76%. The reason why some aren’t loving the Luca Guadagnino-directed project is due to the conclusion, which arguably lacks the closure viewers crave when saying goodbye to characters. If you’re among those feeling confused, our exploration of the Challengers ending will help clear things up for you.

In the newly released movie, Z plays Tashi Duncan – a former tennis star turned coach – who oversees her husband, Art Donaldson’s (Mike Faist) career. Guadagnino opted out of chronological storytelling, instead using flashbacks to enhance the drama surrounding his characters. This shows how Art and Tashi’s multifaceted relationship first began, and as it turns out, he had some competition in pursuing his love interest, in the form of Patrick Zweig (played by Josh O’Connor).

Guadagnino’s Complicated Tennis Love Triangle

The plotline at the center of Challengers sees our male leads preparing for a tennis match before actually facing off in a very heated game with plenty at stake off the court. When the director takes us back in time, we’re introduced to Tashi, Art and Patrick as teenagers, when her athletic abilities had both drooling over her. It was the latter who came out on top in Tashi’s heart, and it doesn’t take long for viewers to realize that P and T’s physical chemistry is off the charts. However, that quickly changes when an injury comes into play.

As Tashi’s career suddenly comes to an end, she blames her then-boyfriend, sending her into the arms of Art. After cutting Patrick out of their lives, the pair eventually tie the knot and welcome a daughter, all while the early retiree works to coach her new husband into the champion she never got to be. Ironically, the trio crosses paths for the first time in years at a point when Art is ready to retire, Patrick wants to make a comeback and Tashi’s determined to watch some well-played tennis, no matter who the final winner is.

Of course, the sport is at the core of Challengers, but the film would be nothing without its many steamy hookup scenes. Besides seeing Zendaya’s passionate side with her ex, viewers also witness Art and Patrick’s seemingly pent-up feelings for one another flowing freely at times. Amid the emotional turmoil of being back in the same place with her husband and ex at the same time, it’s understandable that Tashi felt out of sorts. Still, going so far as to cheat on Art with Patrick ahead of their big game proves that even she doesn’t know where her loyalties are with so much brewing beneath the surface.

Who Won at the End of Challengers?

To the disappointment of some, Challengers’ ending is a cliffhanger. Before his match against Patrick, we hear Tashi tell her husband that she’ll leave him if he loses to her ex-boyfriend, proving her desperation to keep the competitive sport front and center in her life. When he finds out about his wife’s infidelity with his former friend (symbolically revealed through the way Patrick set up his serve), Art is furious, which could’ve completely thrown off his game. However, all his anger worked in his favor as he channeled his aggression into one of his best matches.

In the final scene, we see Art confidently slam the ball across the court before his opponent misses. Both men come crashing together in a tackle-hug then the camera turns to Tashi, who shouts from her seat, “Come on!” It’s unclear if she was yelling out in disappointment due to an unfavorable outcome, or in celebration, seeing the two men she loves playing their favorite game with so much dedication. Though we don’t get numeric closure in the form of a declared winner, it’s obvious that there’s far more to the story than that.

While speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Guadagnino explained why he ended things so ambiguously. “I needed to get this very, very visually amped up and really immersed for the audience to understand how much it meant for them not to win over the other, but to be back together, all of them,” the director said. To the same outlet, O’Connor (Patrick) reflected, “They’ve been all searching for a way and getting it terribly wrong, searching for a way to satisfy that need, that hunger for each other. And they’re all trying to find their way in different ways.”

O’Connor continued, “For Art, maybe it’s getting out of tennis and being with the family, reconnecting with his wife. For Tashi, it’s finding that satisfaction in tennis that she lost by having her career stunted. For Patrick, it’s also finding that feeling of flow when he was playing tennis with Art as a youngster, or watching Tashi playing tennis as a youngster.” If you’re wondering whether Tashi and Art are still married or not, it seems that’s up to you to decide. We don’t know who won the final match, therefore we can’t speculate whether she made good on her promise to divorce Art for losing to Patrick. At the same time, we can’t confirm that the former wasn’t so in his feelings over being cheated on that he decided to leave his coach/wife himself. Regardless of what happened after their unexpected reunion, it’s clear that all three of the lead characters in Challengers learned a lot about themselves.

People Also Ask

Who won the match in Challengers?

The ending of Zendaya’s latest film indicates who won the first point of the tiebreaker – Patrick. Still, we can only speculate how the remaining six points played out, and whether he or Art ultimately won the match.

What happened at the end of Challengers?

The day before the big game between her husband and ex, Tashi tells Art that she’ll leave him if he loses to Patrick. As NME points out, this seems to be a tactic to get her man’s tennis career back on track – obviously a top priority for her as his coach. Not long after, Tashi meets up with Patrick to ask him to throw the match, which he hesitantly agrees to.

In the heat of the moment, Art’s wife and his former friend find the flame between them reigniting as they hook up in the back of Patrick’s car. While the latter doesn’t verbally confirm that he slept with Tashi, he does place the tennis ball against the center of his racket before serving – an intentional symbol the men previously used to communicate that Patrick and Tashi had slept together.

Furious after uncovering the infidelity, Art puts his all into the match, leading to an intense volley back and forth. We see him leap over the net and spike the ball as his opponent catches him and they embrace in what seems like a hug. From the stands, Tashi yells out, “Come on!” leaving audiences to ponder whether she’s upset at being caught cheating or excited to finally be watching some quality tennis.

Did Art win at the end of Challengers?

In some ways, we could say Art won, as he clearly got his drive for the game back. However, he did find out that Tashi cheated on him with Patrick, which can’t be easy on the ego. As mentioned before, the full tennis match intentionally wasn’t played out on camera, leaving what’s next for Tashi and the men in her life up to the imagination.

Is there a post-credit scene in Challengers?

IMDb confirms that there’s no post-credits scene in Challengers.

Is Challengers based on a true story?

Luca Guadagnino’s sports romance movie isn’t based on real life, though writer Justin Kuritzkes did find plenty of inspiration in the world around him. GQ reports that Naomi Osaka defeating Serena Williams at the 2018 US Open gave him the initial idea for the screenplay.

The next year, Kuritzkes was at the Wimbledon finals between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer when he found his inspiration for Tashi Duncan (Zendaya). Federer’s wife, Mirka, caught the Challengers writer’s eye. “She looked so stressed out, every point,” Kuritzkes told the outlet. “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.”

When preparing for the athletic tole, Zendaya took inspiration from two tennis greats – Venus and Serena. “They are iconic, and I admire both of them so much, not just for what they’ve accomplished in the sport, but I think beyond: their impact and their significance for so many people, specifically Black women,” actress told People.