E-sports pro tennis tourney gives fans something to cheer

Pro tennis players will swap their real rackets for virtual ones this weekend in an e-sports contest set to deliver more than $1 million to charity.

If you haven’t already noticed, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted the suspension of professional sports events around the world, leaving fans everywhere wondering when they can next cheer on their favorite stars.

For tennis lovers, this weekend should offer some fun respite from the coronavirus chaos. Top players — among them Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Naomi Osaka — will partner celebrities including Gigi Hadid, Steve Aoki, Addison Rae, and Seal, and play as characters from the Mario Tennis Aces game on the Nintendo Switch. Commentary will be provided by tennis legend John McEnroe and popular YouTuber iJustine.

The contest will be streamed live on Facebook Gaming as the social networking giant works to boost the profile of its recently launched gaming app for Android. You can also watch it on the Facebook page of IMG Tennis, which is backing the event. The stream starts at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 3.

The victors will win $1 million for a charity of their choice, while all of the other competitors will each receive $25,000 for donation to good causes.

Here’s the full list of those getting involved, including who’s partnering with who for the online sports clash: Serena Williams and Gigi Hadid, Naomi Osaka and Hailey Bieber, Maria Sharapova and Karlie Kloss, Kevin Anderson and Ryan Tannehill, Venus Williams and Deandre Hopkins, Kei Nishikori and Steve Aoki, Madison Keys and Seal, Taylor Fritz and Addison Rae.

E-sports events have stepped in to fill the void for both players and fans alike until the pandemic passes. Formula 1 and the National Basketball Association have already held online competitions, while one Formula E team went a different route and turned to marbles for an altogether different kind of spectacle (it’s more mesmerizing than you might think!).

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