Now a Serena will play a game of tennis in the space. Literally!
The historic universal game is slated for tomorrow (Tuesday). The first match on the International Space Centre, a doubles game, will be projection mapped in 3D on planet earth just outside the South Gate of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in the USA.
The Unisphere, the venue for the 3D projection mapping of the game in the space, has a long, historical association with the space age. Built for the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65, the Unisphere had been commissioned to celebrate the dawn of the space age.
The 350-ton, 120-foot-diameter, steel globe on the night (New York Time) will be transformed into an “out-of-this-world,” 3D canvas for projection mapping of the first tennis match on the International Space Station, USOpen.org has reported on its official website of the last Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year.
This Serena will be one of the four Nasa team members who will attempt to play a game of doubles in the International Space Centre. NASA’s Andrew ‘Drew’ Feustel (@astro_feustel), ISS Commander of Expedition 56, will attempt to play the game with fellow crewmates Serena Aunon-Chancellor, NASA Flight Engineer; Ricky Arnold, NASA Flight Engineer and Alexander Gerst, European Space Agency Flight Engineer.
Juan Martin del Potro (@delpotrojuan), 2009 US Open men’s singles champion, will be on hand to help NASA’s Andrew ‘Drew’ Feustel (@astro_feustel) prepare for play. Live from Arthur Ashe Stadium, the ATP world No. 3 will video chat with the tennis-loving astronaut as he orbits on the ISS the afternoon of Aug. 21, states the US Open report.
Ahead of his team’s launch in March, Feustel had predicted how he thought the match might go.
“The fact that we don’t have gravity is hard. Balls won’t bounce, and gravity has no effect. To me, it’s going to seem like that old game Pong, where you hit the ball and the ball just goes straight; it doesn’t bounce on anything. So it’s going to be challenging.” he said. “We might have to invent some new rules.
“The US Open is the grandest stage on Earth, and we’re fortunate to have the Unisphere as part of our backdrop,” said Qianna Smith-Bruneteau, Director of Social Media & Strategy at the US Open. “The Unisphere has never had video projected onto its surfaces or continents, so we’re excited to showcase tennis in space through an immersive experience for both fans on site and those tuning in globally via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
In December of 2017, the USTA set out on a mission with Feustel, a PhD geophysicist by day, interstellar tennis player by night, to excite the next generation of tennis greats about space exploration while demonstrating that tennis is a springboard for unlimited adventures on and off the court.
In the build-up to the first tennis match in space, the USTA solicited some space-tennis tips from professionals. What the players lacked in advice, they made up for in good wishes, as John Isner, Frances Tiafoe, Steve Johnson, Donald Young and Kevin Anderson all recorded video messages for the crew.
Now, thanks to some help from the USTA, Feustel and his team including Serena are ready for action. “We rocketed two mini Net Generation racquets and balls to Feustel on the ISS,” said Amy Choyne, USTA Chief Marketing Officer. “Drew’s passion for tennis and space travel is inspiring our youth to serve to the moon and seek the unknown while also demonstrating the benefits of a fit and athletic lifestyle.”
Fans can watch the gravity-defying action unfold live from on the US Open’s Facebook page, YouTube and @usopen on Twitter’s Periscope, or join the race for tennis in space using the hashtag #TminusNetGeneration.