The importance of the final

Luca Guadagnino's sports drama challenger The competition remains exciting both on the field and privately, but the final game of the film has a deeper meaning for the characters.

challenger Zendaya plays Tashi, a young tennis prodigy on the verge of a breakthrough when she meets two other aspiring players and her best friends Patrick (Josh O'Connor) and Art (Mike Faist). Over the course of the next decade, the trio become entangled in a love triangle that sees both their relationships and their careers ebb and flow.

Much of the film's romance and drama is told through the metaphor of tennis, and there's a particularly thrilling match at the end of the film that offers a resolution to decades of tension.

How does Challengers end?


When challenger begins, it is revealed that Art Donaldson is retiring after a long and illustrious career. So his wife and demanding trainer Tashi signs him up for a friendly round of “Challengers” in the hopes that it will boost his confidence. But then he comes face to face with his former best friend (and Tashi's actual ex), Patrick.

Flashbacks reveal the trio's complex past. Art and Patrick have fought for Tashi's affection over the years, at the expense of their friendship.

In the present timeline, this means simmering tension — and tennis — on the court, with Tashi watching from the sidelines. Eventually, mid-match, Patrick reveals to Art that he slept with Tashi the night before, as part of a long-standing inside joke between them.

This makes the battle between the two more and more exciting. The climax is when Art jumps up for the decisive final shot, sailing straight over the net and landing in Patrick's arms, which Tashi celebrates from the sidelines.

The final outcome of the game remains unknown, the focus remains on the trio's reunion after years of complicated emotions.

Challengers' final tennis match: What does it all mean?

Given the outcome of the last tennis match, some spectators may challenger is confused because there is no definitive solution. However, if you look at the tennis game as a metaphor for the relationship between Tashi, Art and Patrick, the solution is clear.

After Art learns that Patrick recently slept with his wife, the duo battle their feelings in fierce tennis shots and rallies, resulting in a heated and close match. When it comes to match point, where Art jumps over the net and collides with Patrick, it can be seen as a healing of their friendship, resolving a decade of tension between them.

Guadagnino has confirmed that in the end he tried to return the trio to a balance they had as teenagers in the hotel room. The director stressed that he wanted the audience to understand “how much it meant to them not only to defeat each other, but to all be together again.”

Up until that final match, each of the characters has been unhappy with the way their lives have turned out. Tashi and Art are married, but Tashi has had to give up her tennis career due to an injury and settle for being Art's coach. Art has “won” the girl, but wants to retire from tennis, which will displease Tashi. As for Patrick, his tennis career has stalled significantly since his split from Tashi, and he no longer wants either of them in his life.

The trio was never as complete as they were during their time together, and so Patrick and Art's decision to put their friendship above winning feels like a satisfying resolution to their character development.

challenger is available for purchase or rent on digital platforms.

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