The IMG agency has united eight of its top tennis clients, including the Williams sisters and Naomi Osaka, with leading names from the world of sport, entertainment and fashion to launch a new virtual tennis tournament.
The Stay at Home Slam will take place on Sunday at 4pm ET, with the primary broadcast to be streamed exclusively on Facebook via Facebook Gaming, a new esports platform which launched earlier this month, and on IMG’s tennis page on the social media service.
Tennis stars participating, and their corresponding celebrity doubles partners are:
- Serena Williams & fashion model Gigi Hadid
- Naomi Osaka & fashion model Hailey Bieber
- Venus Williams & DeAndre Hopkins of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals
- Maria Sharapova & fashion model Karlie Kloss
- Kei Nishikori & DJ Steve Aoki
- Madison Keys & musician Seal
- Taylor Fritz & social media personality Addison Rae
- Kevin Anderson & Ryan Tannehill of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans
Competitors will play the Mario Tennis Aces video game on Nintendo Switch from their homes across the US, and each will receive $25,000 (€23,000) donated to the charity of their choice, with the winner of the tournament gaining an additional $1m to donate.
The tournament has been made possible by various divisions across IMG’s parent company Endeavor, including IMG’s tennis clients, events and esports teams, WME’s talent clients and digital groups, as well as Endeavor Content’s Film 45, which will produce the tournament stream.
Stuart Saw, senior vice-president of esports at IMG, said: “Across the Endeavor network, we are pivoting in creative ways during this time of crisis. We’re thrilled to have the internal resources to bring a bit of levity to viewers’ lives, and who better than Mario to bring people together for some friendly, competitive fun? We’re also grateful to have the support of Facebook Gaming to help us bring this event to fans around the world.”
Leo Olebe, global director of games partnerships for Facebook Gaming, added: “Gaming’s superpower has always been bringing people together, and right now that’s the case more than ever. Blending that superpower with pro athletes and epic entertainment to raise money for Covid-19 relief and research efforts is a natural fit that we’re proud to be a part of.”
IMG Arena, the sports betting arm of IMG, and ATP Media, the ATP Tour’s international media-rights sales and broadcast production arm, last month developed a virtual ATP Masters 1000 tennis product for the betting market.
The game was created as bookmakers worldwide continue to be hit by the dearth of live sports action amid the ongoing pandemic.