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Zendaya serves 'tenniscore' on 'Challengers' red carpet. Now fans are making it a trend.

Fashion experts say that Zendaya’s red carpet looks are already encouraging people to wear outfits inspired by the sport.
Photo Illustration: Zendaya's red carpet looks from the "Challengers" press tour
Game, set, match: "Challengers" and its star Zendaya are helping elevate "tenniscore" styles.Justine Goode / NBC News; Getty Images

Zendaya has served themed red carpet looks while promoting her tennis-centric film “Challengers.” Now, fans of the star are hopping on the trend, giving rise to attire inspired by the sport.

Fashion industry experts predict that Zendaya’s looks — and “Challengers” itself — will help further fuel an obsession with what’s been described online as tenniscore, which refers to a tennis-inspired aesthetic.

The style — which typically features wardrobe staples like tennis whites, pleated skirts and cable knits — has been growing in popularity for years, according to trend forecaster WGSN. Last year, in particular, interest in tenniscore styles increased 7%, WGSN said in a recent report.

Zendaya at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters on April 13, 2024 in Monaco.
Zendaya at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in Monaco on April 13.Arnold Jerocki / Getty Images for Warner Bros
Zendaya tennis ball heels in Rome and tennis racket skirt in London.
Zendaya wears tennis ball heels in Rome and a tennis racket skirt in London.AFP via Getty Images; WireImage

The fashion genre’s appeal stems from the growth of racquet sports in general, including tennis and pickleball, in the years since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Yvonne Kostiak, head of active at WGSN.

Racquet sports gave people a socially distant opportunity to socialize, and now people are continuing to use these activities as an alternative way to meet friends instead of going to a bar, Kostiak said.

Zendaya plays Tashi Duncan, a tennis player turned coach, in the Luca Guadagnino-directed film, which also stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor. The fictional Duncan has already generated buzz based on the trailers, but Zendaya’s style has especially caught the eye of fashion enthusiasts.

The movie is “going to elevate tenniscore,” Kostiak said. “And I think it’s going to make it a bit more fancy and dressy in comparison to that preppier, slightly more basic look that we’ve already seen for a while.”

 Zendaya at the UK premiere of "Challengers" in London, on April 10, 2024.
Zendaya at the U.K. premiere of "Challengers" in London on April 10.Justin Tallis / AFP via Getty Images

Just like people wore their pinkest clothes for “Barbie” or friendship bracelets for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour” film, moviegoers are already indicating they will go all out.

“The difference with the ‘Barbie’ film is that it felt very of that moment,” Kostiak said. “But I think there are consumer drivers beneath this trend that are strong enough to keep this kind of tennis, preppy, casual wear with a fashion influence going for a good couple of years.”

In a post on social media, Zendaya’s longtime stylist Law Roach urged fans to wear their best tenniscore outfits to the theaters, asking them to share their outfits with the hashtag #TashiMadeMeWearIt.

Jasmine Perillo, a creator who makes content about film and fashion, said she’s been loving movie-inspired style challenges because they are “getting people back in the theaters and watching movies where they should be watched.”

Taking inspiration from Roach’s styling of Zendaya, Perillo created an all-white outfit with pops of tennis ball green and posted it to her Instagram reel. The pieces were an homage to a Prada grommet skirt and Zendaya’s custom Loewe tennis ball heels — which garnered headlines for their playful take on the tennis theme.

“Tenniscore can either be dressed up, like think the outfit I DIYed — I feel like that’s more dressy — or even think about Wimbledon fashion, like that’s a little bit more elevated,” Perillo said. “But tenniscore can also just remain kind of just like sporty and practical.”

Jasmine Perillo took inspiration from Roach’s styling of Zendaya for her Tenniscore creations.
Jasmine Perillo took inspiration from Roach’s styling of Zendaya for her tenniscore creations.Jasmine Perillo

The trend is a natural evolution from athleisure, which was characterized by yoga pants and windbreakers, according to Kostiak.

It “has that comfort aspect, but it’s slightly smarter and dressier so you can still look good socializing, wearing it beyond the court, or even to work scenarios,” she said.

Taylor Timinskas, a fashion creator, said that she believes Roach has helped present a new twist on the typical tenniscore look.

“I really enjoyed this ‘Challengers’ press tour because we got a lot of different variations on what we would consider tenniscore or even some more literal tennis-inspired outfits,” said Timinskas, who said she plans to dress up to watch the movie whenever she snags tickets. “So it’s a fun way to also get a lot of custom looks by different designers and kind of see different spins and takes on the tenniscore aesthetic.”

Zendaya at the Australian premiere in Sydney on March 26, and the French premiere in Paris on April 6.
Zendaya at the Australian premiere in Sydney on March 26, and the French premiere in Paris on April 6.Getty Images; Corbis

While Zendaya’s outfits have incorporated plenty of the typical tenniscore elements, others take inspiration from the game or its players, including a Loewe dress depicting a player serving, a Lacoste skirt made to look like a net and a re-creation of the Carolina Herrera striped dress worn by Venus and Serena Williams for a Vogue photo shoot in 1998.

“This whole tennis thing is also more about a lifestyle,” Roach said during a Vogue interview with Zendaya, which documented the two getting her ready for the “Challengers” premiere. “I think Tashi … as she got older she had a certain lifestyle. I think that plays into if she was a real person.”

Zendaya’s first red carpet look on the press tour was intended to “help introduce the character into this world,” Roach said in the video. “We want to make sure we give the people that first right taste.”