Serena Williams sees echoes of Roger Federer in Zendaya film "Challengers"

The tennis legend reflects on the parallels between the movie's characters and real-world tennis dynamics.

Pop Culture & Art April 27, 2024
Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Tennis icon Serena Williams found herself reflecting on the life of another legend, Roger Federer, and his relationship with his wife Mirka while watching Zendaya's new film, "Challengers".

In her Vogue review of the movie, Williams delves into the ways the film accurately portrays the competitive world of tennis. She highlighted the dynamic between Zendaya's character, Tashi, and the two influential men in her life—her husband and coach, Art (Mike Faist), and her former flame and tennis rival, Patrick (Josh O'Connor).

"I recognized Art, too. A lot of male tennis players really rely on their wives and girlfriends," Williams wrote. "Just look at someone like Roger Federer: he used to actually hit with his wife, Mirka, and they were like glue."

Williams further observes how the film captures the frequent isolation faced by top players in men's tennis. However, she also acknowledges her own past "codependence" on her sister, Venus Williams, at the beginning of their careers.

While she found empathy for some of the male characters in the film, Williams admits that she found the character of Tashi to be "mean".  However, she did recognize the tough choices competitive athletes face when finding partners who can truly understand their unique lifestyles.

Williams' reflections draw from her own storied career. She retired from professional tennis in 2022 to spend more time with her family. Since then, Williams has focused on new ventures like her Wyn Beauty makeup brand and wellness line, Will Perform.

Federer, who also recently retired due to injuries, echoed a similar sentiment in his retirement announcement.  He highlighted the invaluable support of his wife, Mirka, and their four children throughout his career.


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