Even though they aren’t on the court, many of the world’s biggest tennis stars are trying to keep their competitive spirit alive. Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova are among the stars set to compete in today’s Stay at Home Slam, People reports. In the remote tournament, the tennis champs will play Mario Tennis Aces on the Nintendo Switch to raise money for COVID-19 relief.
Each competitor will play the game from their homes, they and will receive $25,000 for the charity of their choice for taking part in the remote tournament. The winner will receive an additional $1 million for their chosen charity.
“I mean what’s not to like? First and foremost: we are giving well over $1 million to COVID-19 related charities, the real reason we all signed on. It’s really amazing for us all to be able to come together in such a short time frame to help,” Osaka told People, explaining her decision to take part in the tournament.
Osaka is playing in the tournament for Hope for Haiti, which is a nonprofit organization focused on helping the Haitian people. Osaka told the magazine that, because she’s a big gamer, this tournament was in her wheelhouse. She acknowledged that Mario Tennis Aces is a little more about luck than skill, but she said that she was still keeping her competitive spirit alive.
Osaka has been paired with Hailey Bieber for the tournament and said she was excited about the partnership.
“I heard she has been practicing with Justin, so I’m hoping we do well,” Osaka said.
The tennis champion said that she’s grateful to be able to give back amid the pandemic. She said that one of the best things about being in the spotlight was being able to shine a light on causes that are important. She said that it was special and personal for her to play for a cause she believed in and help those who had been impacted physically and economically by COVID-19.
Even as many professional tennis tournaments have been canceled or postponed indefinitely in response to the virus, Osaka said she’s taking time to focus on the things that she still has.
“It’s a time where you do what you can because, in the end, we are all here and in this together,” the tennis star said.
Osaka also said that, even though she’s not training on the court, she’s still doing work to keep her mind and body healthy. When tennis does return, Osaka said she plans to be ready on day one.