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Serena’s coach sets up independent tennis league

New Zealand Tennis ASB Classic

United States’ Serena Williams celebrates a point during her quarter finals singles match against Germany’s Laura Siegemund at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (Chris Symes/Photosport via AP)


Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, says he is starting an independent tennis league to have professionals play matches without spectators starting in May at his academy in Nice, France.

The ATP and WTA professional tours have been on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic and are suspended at least until mid-July.

Mouratoglou announced his venture Saturday, calling it the Ultimate Tennis Showdown or UTS.

He says the plan is to live-stream 10 matches per weekend for five weekends in May and June.

The competition is slated to start May 16. That is when 10th-ranked David Goffin of Belgium, a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, is scheduled to face 103rd-ranked Alexei Popyrin of Australia, whose father is the co-founder of the UTS.

The next Grand Slam tournament on the calendar is supposed to be the U.S. Open, which is planning to begin main-draw competition on Aug. 31 in New York.

The French Open’s start was postponed from May until September, while Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.