Serena Williams' Coach Starts League for Pro Players Without Fans Amid COVID-19

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2020

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 17: Serena Williams of United States (R) speaks with coach Patrick Mouratoglou during practice ahead of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Patrick Mouratoglou announced Saturday that he is starting an independent tennis league called the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) that will allow professionals to play during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), matches will be played at Mouratoglou's tennis academy in Nice, France, with no fans in attendance. The matches will be streamed live, with 10 matches taking place per weekend over five weekends in May and June.

Mouratoglou currently coaches Serena Williams, Coco Gauff and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

While no announcement has been made regarding exactly who will take part in the UTS, the first match is set to take place May 16 and will pit world No. 10 David Goffin against world No. 103 Alexei Popyrin.

Goffin is a 29-year-old Belgian who has been ranked as high as seventh in the world. He has reached the quarterfinals once in each of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and has four career ATP singles titles to his credit.

The 20-year-old Popyrin is an up-and-coming player from Australia who is the son of the co-founder of the UTS. Popyrin reached the third round of the Aussie Open twice and the U.S. Open once. He is perhaps best known for winning the 2017 boys' French Open junior title.

Both the ATP and WTA were suspended in March and will continue to be shut down until at least mid-July. As a result of COVID-19, the Wimbledon men's and women's tournaments were both canceled.

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The U.S. Open is scheduled to begin Aug. 31, and the French Open was postponed from May until September.