Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has joined the growing list of global celebrities investing in the sport that’s making huge waves in America: Pickleball.
Model Heidi Klum, actress Eva Longoria and sport superstars LeBron James, Michael Phelps and Patrick Mahomes are among a huge list of big names and champion athletes who are splashing the cash on Major League Pickleball.
So what is all the fuss about? And what on earth is Pickleball?
After being invented in 1965, the sport has burst to prominence again in the last few years, with parks becoming completely taken over by adults and children playing the tennis-like game.
Nick Kyrgios, pictured with girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, has become the latest celebrity to invest in the new Major League Pickleball
Global superstar celebrities like Heidi Klum and Eva Longoria are among those who are investing in cult new phenomenon, Pickleball
A combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong, Pickleball is played with paddles and a hollow, polymer ball on a court about a third of the size of tennis.
If it doesn’t sound inherently exciting to watch, it’s because it is probably just a slower, smaller version of tennis.
But that hasn’t deterred some of the world’s biggest celebrities from getting behind the new Major League, including our very own Kyrgios.
Players are drafted by teams owned by people such as James, Tom Brady and tech billioniare Mark Cuban.
Kyrgios invested in the Miami team alongside fellow tennis star Naomi Osaka (the Aussie is managed by Osaka’s management company).
He shared a photo on his social media accounts captioned ‘Let’s Go!’ alongside a picture of all the new stars investing in the league.
He might be excited to get in on the ground floor of a league attracting huge public interest, but an Aussie tennis legend has been scathing of his investment.
Nick Kyrgios posted his delight at being a new investor in Major League Pickleball on social media on Wednesday morning
‘Just to let everyone know, I will NOT be investing in a Pickleball franchise & will never turn a tv on to watch Pickleball,’ Renae Stubbs posted on Twitter.
‘I would rather watch pain dry. Why all these tennis players think Pickleball is worth investing in and not the game that made them all the $$$ is beyond me.’
As per usual, Kyrgios took the bait, and was having none of the criticism, citing the fact other athletes – some of the most recognisable in the world – were also investing in the league.
‘Lol I think LeBron James and Kevin Durant have a bit more of an idea f***ing what to invest in,’ he retorted, though missing the point Stubbs had made.
Talking on her podcast, the Rennae Stubbs Tennis Podcast, the six-time Grand Slam doubles winner said as much.
Kyrgios, pictured playing at the World Tennis League on December 19, has refuted suggestions by Aussie legend Rennae Stubbs that he should be investing in his own sport
‘I’m not talking about basketball players investing in f**king pickleball, I’m talking about tennis players investing in pickleball,’ she said.
‘It’s like wait a second you think because LeBron and KD (Kevin Durant) invested, then holy s**t we should all be jumping onboard.
‘No dude, they got play money, those guys have play money or somebody with a shit load of money, way more than LeBron and KD is giving them money to invest in a pickleball association,’ said Stubbs.
The criticism will likely not bother Kyrgios in the slightest.
The US’ Sports and Fitness Industry Association confirmed pickleball the fastest growing sport, with participation up 39 per cent between 2019 and 2021.
The sport’s governing body, USA Pickleball, says there are 4.8 million pickleball players in the country..
A healthy crowd gathered to watch the Men’s Doubles championship match of the 2022 Margaritaville USA Pickleball Nationals Championships at Indian Wells
Pickleball is played on a court a third the size of a tennis one, with a hollow ball and paddle – like Major League player Dekel Bar, who is pictured here
Major League Pickleball CEO, Brian Levine, is clearly confident the tournament will continue to grow in stature thanks to the investment and exposure from people like Kyrgios.
‘The diversity in the backgrounds and expertise of our fantastic new owners is an incredible asset as we aggressively expand Major League to reach more fans than ever,’ he said in a statement.
‘We always say Pickleball brings people together, and this roster of leaders from across a wide variety of industries is a strong testament to that philosophy.’
Pickleball Australia, which was established in 2020, said associations and playing groups Down Under were ‘well connected with the rapidly growing Pickleball community worldwide.’