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Family, Fun, and One Fierce Forehand – Serena Williams on the Nintendo Switch

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Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, four Olympic gold medals, and, in addition to being one of the greatest tennis players of all time, she’s also a wife, a mother, and, we recently discovered, an avid Nintendo Switch gamer. For those of you keeping score at home, that means Serena Williams and I have exactly one thing in common.

Suffice it to say, when Nintendo of America asked if I’d be interested in taking part in a lunchtime virtual event with Serena earlier this week, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. One simply does not turn down a chance to speak with the most iconic athlete of the modern era, so I, along with three dozen or so other bloggers, journalists, gamers, and influencers, settled in Monday afternoon to hear her thoughts on family fun, self-care, and her earliest gaming memories.

Things kicked off—perhaps unsurprisingly—with a little Mario Tennis Aces, Serena’s go-to Switch title. She (playing all-arounder Mario) took on Cindy from NOA (as the equally well-balanced Daisy) and… Cindy actually came out ahead?! 

Everyone has their off days, and, after all, Serena Williams isn’t famed for her video game tennis skills. Still, she took it all in stride and quickly transitioned from congratulating Cindy to sharing her own formative childhood gaming experiences.

She made sure to give some love to a number of early NES titles, including Taito’s Bubble Bobble and the Power Pad pack-in World Class Track Meet. She also recalled an early portable favorite, Game Boy standout Metroid II: Return of Samus.

Gaming on the go, as it turns out, is still a favored pastime for Serena. The portability of the Nintendo Switch is a feature she seems to relish, taking the system with her on the road and using it to unwind and decompress during her afternoon “me time.” It was refreshing to hear a world-class athletic competitor reflect on the simple rejuvenating powers of gaming, with Serena going so far as to connect it to both relaxation and personal wellness.

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image: NOA

Like many of us here in the GeekParent community, Serena likes to share gaming with the family, sometimes watching daughter Olympia or husband Alexis Ohanian make their way through their own favorite titles. And while she tends to regard motion controls as a little too intense for her liking, she did admit to enjoying the high-energy Just Dance franchise with none other than big sister Venus.

While time was tight and interaction with individual journos was sadly limited, I was thrilled to be able to ask Serena a question.

Taking into consideration that Mario Tennis Aces is her current favorite and given her status in real-world tennis as one of the all-time greats, I decided to link the two by asking if she’d ever considered what her own Mario sports-style Special Shot animation might look like. What she described was a cross between MTA‘s traditional Power Shot combined with the magical might of Boo’s Illusion Shot—a move we unanimously agreed would be titled the “Serena Zone Shot.”

It’s not often that my week peaks during lunchtime on Monday, but getting to spend some time with Serena Williams while eating free DoorDash provided by my friends at Nintendo definitely set the bar high!

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