Each star was paired up with young "queens" from the community to take on the court for a twist on a classic tennis game

By Georgia Slater
August 21, 2019 12:33 PM

With the U.S. Open quickly approaching, 11 of the best professional female tennis players are taking the opportunity to share their excitement and passion for the growth of women in sports.

On Tuesday, Nike partnered with the athletes and girls from the United States Tennis Association and New York Junior Tennis & Learning for the Queens of the Future event on the streets of New York City — not too far from Flushing, Queens, where the U.S. Open is held every summer.

The pop-up tennis stadium was located at William F. Passannante Ballfield on the corner of W. Houston and Avenue of the Americas, where athletes including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Sloane Stephens, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova helped to inspire girls everywhere to follow their dreams, no matter how big.

Vikram Valluri/BFA.com

Each star was paired up with young “queens” from the community to take on the court for a twist on a classic tennis game. Later, Sharapova, Madison Keys, Stephens, and Halep played a quick doubles match on behalf of both youth organizations.

Vikram Valluri/BFA.com

Though Williams didn’t play in any of the fun matches, she did share some of her wisdom and experience with the crowds of aspiring tennis stars.

“Sport has really changed my life,” said Williams. “I’m here because of sport, and it has given me a lot of confidence, courage and discipline. It has helped me grow into the person I am today, so I think sport — especially in young ladies lives — is incredibly important at whatever level you choose to play it at.”

She also told the crowd that it’s “so important to stay with sport.” She explained, “It brings a lot of discipline, and I think staying with something — even if you’re not successful or not the best at it — creates discipline and will help you later in life.”

Vikram Valluri/BFA.com

Earlier this year Williams spoke out about women’s equality in sports, providing the voiceover for the “Dream Crazier” Nike commercial which shows female athletes dominating in their sports.

“If we show emotion, we’re called dramatic,” Williams narrates. As footage of 16-year-old female football player Sam Gordon airs, Williams says, “If we want to play against men, we’re nuts. And if we dream of equal opportunity, delusional.”

Courtesy Nike

“But, a woman running a marathon was crazy,” the athlete narrates. “A woman boxing was crazy. A woman dunking: crazy. Coaching an NBA team: crazy. A woman competing in a hijab, changing her sport, landing a double cork 1080 or winning 23 grand slams, having a baby and coming back for more? Crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy and crazy.”

She concludes, “So if they want to call you crazy? Fine, show them what crazy can do.”