“ZENDAYA SERVES” is a cover line of evergreen accuracy, but the editors must have been crushed when the whole reason for the pun, Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming film Challengers, got its release delayed due to the AMPTP being unable to negotiate reasonably with the guilds. In it, Zendaya plays a tennis star embroiled in what appears to be a psychosexual love triangle that Elle calls “a feat of sensual chaos,” and presumably, serve she shall — both on the court and off. Oh well, the world can never get enough of Zendaya, so maybe we can get a sequel, ZENDAYA SERVES AGAIN, when Challengers finally bows in April 2024. (I suppose they can’t push it TOO far, but does punting it from a plum Venice Film Festival slot to a random weekend in April — instead of, say, trying to get it into Cannes — mean that it might not be very good?)

The shoot’s styling was handled by Law Roach, whose partnership with her comes up in the accompanying piece as well. She talks about her evolution, her grandmother, her fashion, her relationship with fame (and her relationship, as it pertains to fame), and her Challengers character Tashi:

“I still don’t understand the decisions she makes, and we had so many conversations about the psychology of her and why she is that way,” she says. “What was important to me was that she was unapologetic about it. Sometimes characters who are messy and conflicted and wield power over other people are reserved for [actors] who don’t look like me, so when I get an opportunity to play a character like that, I’ma take it!”

As ever, Zendaya seems like she’d be a fun hang — the writer mentions they had a three-hour lunch, and I believe it. I can totally buy getting sucked into her company.

[Photos: Steven Klein, story by Clover Hope; ELLE’s September 2023 issue hits newsstands nationwide on August 29]
Tags: Elle