Tennis superstars including the Williams sisters, Naomi Osaka, and Maria Sharapova will be plugging the sports-shaped hole left by the coronavirus with a "Mario Tennis" tournament.
They will be playing "Mario Tennis Aces" on the Nintendo Switch, and the doubles tournament will be livestreamed on Facebook's live video game streaming platform Facebook Gaming on May 3 at 4 p.m. ET. It will see professional tennis plays paired up with other celebrities including Seal and Gigi Hadid. The teams are as follows:
- Serena Williams and Gigi Hadid
- Naomi Osaka and Hailey Bieber
- Venus Williams and DeAndre Hopkins
- Maria Sharapova and Karlie Kloss
- Kei Nishikori and Steve Aoki
- Madison Keys and Seal
- Taylor Fritz and Addison Rae
- Kevin Anderson and Ryan Tannehill
Commenting on their games will be tennis commentator John McEnroe and YouTuber iJustine (real name Justine Ezarik).
It is not yet clear whether the players will have assigned Mario characters or whether they will be able to chop and change as the tournament carries on.
"Competitors will play the video game from their homes across the country, and each will receive $25,000 donated to the charity of their choice, with the winner of the tournament receiving an additional $1 million in donation," sports events agency IMG, the host of the tournament, announced in a statement.
This is not the first time tennis players have taken to gaming during the pandemic, with the Madrid Virtual Open currently taking place via "Tennis World Tour" on the PS4. Wimbledon winner Andy Murray appears to have taken particularly well to the format, taunting opponents including Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev.