On Monday, First Lady Melania Trump inaugurated the new tennis pavilion alongside a new tennis court at the White House, which has been in the works since October 2019.
History continues to unfold at the White House and I am pleased to announce the completion of the tennis pavilion. Preserving this historic landmark is vital and I want to thank all who helped complete this project. Melania Trump
“I am happy to announce the completion of the structure,” Mrs Trump announced on social media. “It is my hope that this private space will function as both a place of leisure and gathering for future First Families.”
The project was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Planning Commission in 2019, and earlier this year, in March, as coronavirus began to spread in the US, Mrs Trump was criticised for posting photos of herself reviewing the blueprints for the pavilion.
She tweeted urging ‘everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities’.
The design of the pavilion matches the neoclassical style of the east and west wings of the White House, with parapet walls, a colonnade and large fanlight windows tying the new building into the overall look and feel of the White House.
“History continues to unfold at the White House & I am pleased to announce the completion of the tennis pavilion. Preserving this historic landmark is vital & I want to thank all who helped complete this project,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Many are not happy about the timing of the First Lady’s announcement, with the pandemic raging across the United States and many hospitals near capacity.
The White House has had a tennis court since the days of Teddy Roosevelt.
President Calvin Coolidge’s son died of blood poisoning after developing a blister while playing a game on the court in 1924, while George HW Bush was an avid player.
Many Presidents and First Ladies have left their personal touches on the White House, some more indelible than others.
The world famous Rose Garden was established by Ellen Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson.
The White House children’s garden spruced up by Mrs Trump was a gift in 1968 from President Lyndon Baines Johnson and his wife Lady Bird.
Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John F Kennedy, also created her own garden, which was named after her, on the South Lawn, and Michelle Obama created the vegetable garden as part of her healthy eating drive.
Another Teddy Roosevelt innovation was the White House Family Theater, where first families and their guests hold movie nights.
The putting green was installed in 1954 by Dwight Eisenhower, an avid golfer, while a bowling alley was built in 1947, where the Situation Room is now situated near the West Wing, as a birthday present for Harry Truman.
In 1969, Richard Nixon had a new one-lane alley built beneath the driveway leading to the White House’s North Portico.
President Franklin D Roosevelt had an indoor pool built, where he underwent physical therapy after a bout of polio as a young man put him in a wheelchair, but Nixon converted it into the White House press room.
Gerald Ford had an outdoor swimming pool installed just outside the Oval Office and used to take almost daily swims.
A quarter-mile running track was installed by Bill Clinton in 1993 so that he could exercise without disrupting Washington traffic and although he hardly used it, his successor George W Bush went for runs there more frequently.
Donald Trump and his wife Melania are great tennis fans and over the years they have been spotted several times in the stands to attend matches, particularly at the US Open.