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Wait… So Who Won The Match At The End Of ‘Challengers’?

Tennis always comes in threes. In fact, it’s The Rule of Three that follows the intense tennis match in Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers, putting a heated love affair between three tennis players at the forefront. It’s no wonder why the film has already been making a huge presence on social media. Whether it’s photos of Zendaya’s iconic tennis wear outfits to the now-infamous “I Told Ya” shirt, audiences are running to theaters to witness all of the messiness, drama, and more in Challengers. But after watching the movie, there’s no doubt that everyone will be talking about that final match.

If you’re like me, I was definitely on the edge of my seat when watching Challengers for the first time. The tennis matches get intense in this film and the ending of Challengers seemed open-ended, but we’re here to help explain what actually happened to our favorite tennis players at the end of the film. Spoiler warning: Spoilers for Challengers follow.

What happens at the end of Challengers?

Throughout Challengers, we cut back and forth to Art and Patrick’s present-day tennis match as they compete in a Challenger event. A Challenger event is one of the lowest levels a pro can go, and the shared history between Art and Patrick is just as palpable on the court.

The former friends went to a tennis academy together and played as a duo in the professional world before they ended their partnership as a result of Tashi’s (played by Zendaya) injury. Both men have a long, shared history with Tashi, with Patrick being her former boyfriend and Art going on to marry Tashi after they’ve all known one another for 13 years. Both Patrick and Art share a mutual love for tennis and find themselves vying for Tashi’s attention, which ultimately strains their friendship.

In a scene where Patrick and Art are practicing, Patrick makes a comment about how Art has a specific way of hitting the tennis ball. This is during the early stages of Tashi and Patrick’s relationship as teenagers, leaving Art to ask Patrick if he’s slept with Tashi. By using Art’s signature move as a signal to confirm that yes, he and Tashi did sleep together, Patrick is able to answer Art’s question without words.

As we cut back to the present-day challenger event, the game is getting intense as both Art and Patrick are tied. Before the match, however, it’s revealed that Tashi and Patrick slept together after she asked him to lose the match so that Art could win. Art wants to retire as he’s fallen out of love with tennis, and ultimately, Patrick agrees to lose. It’s on the court that Patrick reveals to Art that he slept with Tashi prior to the match, using Art’s infamous move of putting the tennis ball in between the tennis racket.

Who won the match?

After Art catches Patrick doing the signal, the two begin a heated final round of their tennis match. Whoever wins takes it all, and it’s down to this final moment. As the game gets more intense, the two get closer and closer to the tennis net until eventually, they’re so close together that they jump into each other’s arms. Art and Patrick end up embracing one another on the court, signaling a mutual level of respect and remembrance of their friendship before they began fighting for Tashi’s attention.

Tashi, watching from the sidelines, is frustrated at the outcome, screaming at both players before she smiles. It’s the first time viewers see her happy and satisfied with tennis, and it all comes down to this moment where we finally see her break out into excitement.

It’s not entirely clear who wins the match at the end of the film, but with Art having the final hand in the game, it’s easy to lean more towards the idea that Art not only won the Challenger but also won back the respect of Patrick and Tashi at the end. 

In an interview with Today, screenwriter Justin Kurtitzke said that the film itself is “a movie who can really only speak their hearts on the tennis court, through action [and] through playing.” This implies that the real winner of the match doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
But one thing is clear: Whether you’re Team Tashi, Team Art, or Team Patrick, we’re all going to be debating the final scene of Challengers for a while.

Leia Mendoza

TX State '24

Leia Mendoza is a national entertainment & culture correspondent and writer at Her Campus, where she writes and talks about the latest entertainment news and pop culture updates. As well as updating timely news, she covers a broad aspect of film, television and music for Her Campus Media. She is also a contributor to Offscreen Central, where she covers award shows and future Oscar contenders. In 2024, she created Director Brat, a website centered around film and television reviews and exclusive industry interviews for the next generation of creatives. In addition, she is a Film Production and Fashion Merchandising student at Texas State University. In the past, she has covered events conducted by Texas State University, Austin Film Festival's On Story, & SXSW. She has conducted interviews for Paramount, MGM, and A24. You can find her in her spare time talking about bridging the worlds of film and fashion together, cinema preservation, indie darlings, and fabulous shopping sequences.