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.
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:
Flowers are in full bloom in the White House Rose Garden, Washington, DC, on April 27, 1963. Getty Images
General George Patton and President Harry Truman walking together at White House Rose Garden in Washington, District of Columbia, 1945. Getty Images
View of American politicians, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson (1908 - 1973) and President John F Kennedy (1917 - 1963), as they meet with the press in the White House Rose Garden, Washington DC, March 6, 1961. Getty Images
Lady Bird Johnson is shown in the White House rose garden with her grandson Patrick Lyndon Nugent, Lynda Bird Robb and an Easter Bunny. 10th April 1968. Getty Images
After taking their vows, Edward Finch Cox and Tricia Nixon Cox walk through rows of flowers past their guests en route to the White House for the reception, following their wedding in the White House rose garden. The bride is the daughter of president Richard Nixon.
President Reagan in a meeting with reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House, says he is 'prepared to go the extra mile' in reaching an acceptable compromise with Congress on the 1983 budget. Getty Images
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan feeds some White House squirrels (not shown) with acorns collected for Camp David. The photo was taken outside the Oval Office adjacent to the Rose Garden. Getty Images
Russian President Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin (1931 - 2007), left, stands next to US President George HW Bush (1924 - 2018) at the White House's Rose Garden, Washington, DC, June 16, 1992. Getty Images
U.S. President George Bush gestures toward reporters during an outdoor press conference in the White House Rose Garden 10 April, 1992. Standing next to a magnolia tree in full bloom, President Bush said he has ordered his campaign workers to "stay out of the sleaze business". AFP
US President George Bush gives French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau a tour of the White House Rose Garden, 24 April 1992. AFP
President Clinton and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto walk through the Rose Garden on their way to lunch April 11 1995 at the White House.
President Clinton Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat leave the Rose Garden of the White House October 15 1999. Reuters
US President Bill Clinton and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud walk through the Rose Garden 24 September 1998 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP
US President Bill Clinton, using his crutch as a pointer, shows Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto various flowers and trees during a tour of the Rose Garden at the White House 25 April. AFP
President George W. Bush makes a statement from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. Bush said the election of Barack Obama as president of the U.S. is a 'dream fulfilled' for the civil rights movement and a victory for all Americans. Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks about rising gas prices and oil company tax breaks during a statement in the Rose Garden at the White House on March 29, 2012 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia and Sasha pose for a family portrait with their pets Bo and Sunny in the Rose Garden of the White House on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
Additional reporting by AP
Updated: December 8, 2020 04:58 PM