A new tennis pavilion at the White House might not be the ace Melania Trump had hoped to serve.
The first lady of the US is facing backlash after unveiling a renovated tennis court at the Washington, DC address, with social media users questioning the timing of the project.
The renovation included revitalising an existing court and building a pavilion, which echoes the architecture of the White House itself, to replace a smaller structure on the South Lawn.
The completed project, which was first announced in 2018, was unveiled in an announcement by the first lady's office on Monday, December 7.
“Thank you to all of the talented craftsmen who made this project possible and to the generous supporters of the White House,” said Trump. “It is my hope that this private space will function as both a place of leisure and gathering for future First Families.”
The south grounds of the White House have traditionally served as recreational space for first families since the early 20th century, with each president leaving a personal touch.
Former president Barack Obama, an avid basketball player, had previously turned the tennis court into one suitable for basketball.
Earlier this year, the first lady shared photos of herself wearing a hard hat while reviewing blueprints for the pavilion.
The new building was funded by private donations, the statement added, though did not disclose the cost.
The announcement drew criticism on social media, as the renovations were completed while Covid-19 cases surge across the US.
David Corn, Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief, tweeted a reply stating the US death toll from the coronavirus as it stood on Monday: "282,345."
“How many PPEs, tests, masks, contact tracers and ICU beds could that have bought instead?" asked epidemiologist and economist Eric Feigl-Ding.
Trump issued a follow-up tweet from the Flotus account, encouraging her critics to "take time and contribute something good and productive in their own communities".
The project was completed shortly before Trump and her husband, US President Donald Trump, hand the keys to the White House over to President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take the oath of office on January 20.
Completion of the tennis pavilion follows the First Lady's redesign of the White House Rose Garden earlier this year.
Scroll through the gallery below to see more images of the White House Rose Garden:
Additional reporting by AP