Beyonce Opens The Oscars With Tennis-Themed Performance At Venus And Serena Williams’ Hometown Court

Beyonce opened Sunday night’s 94th Academy Awards ceremony with a tribute to Venus and Serena Williams performed on the famed tennis courts “in the heart of beautiful Compton, where we truly came alive as professional athletes,” the sisters said when introducing the singer’s opening set.

Of course, Beyonce performed “Be Alive,” her song from the Will Smith-starring film about the Williams sisters, “King Richard.” The performance opened with a number of characteristically statuesque Beyonce dancers, clad in tennis-ball-green outfits, walking down a Compton street toward the courts, past the kind of low-rider cars made world-famous in Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg videos in the 1990s.

The scene moved to the court, where Beyonce, atop a small platform, was accompanied by dozens of dancers and musicians, with Bey and Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy dancing in the front.

The location — where the pair practiced relentless drills in their youth under the watchful eye of their father, who is portrayed by Will Smith in the multi-nominated biopic “King Richard” — was an ideal Oscar setting for the song. The Lueders Park courts were officially rebranded as the Venus and Serena Williams Court of Champions in 2016.

The song — which plays under the film’s end credits — reflects the struggle and persistence of the rising tennis stars, with the lyrics celebrating pride, self-confidence and the love of family: “It feels so good, so good/ Got all my family by my side/ And we gon’ sit on top of the world again/ Couldn’t wipe this Black off if I tried/ And I wouldn’t trade nothing/ That’s why I lift my head with pride.”

Beyonce has been close with the Williams family for many years. Serena made an appearance in Beyonce’s 2016 video for the song “Sorry”; that same year, Bey watched the tennis star compete in the U.S. Open and Wimbledon with her husband and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jay-Z

“It’s great to have Beyoncé and Jay Z supporting,” Serena told E-News at the time. “It’s always wonderful to see them at tennis and it’s always good when you can just rely on someone and know that they’re always in your corner, whether they are there or not. That’s kind of how it is with us.”

Sources tell Variety the performance was pre-recorded earlier this week.

This is far from the first time Beyonce has performed at the Academy Awards. In 2005, the singer performed three of the five Best Original Song nominees that night, including a duet with Josh Groban and a ballad sung in French, including “Learn to Be Lonely” from the remake of “The Phantom of the Opera.” She sang alongside Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose in 2007 with a medley from “Dreamgirls,” and also in 2009 to accompany host Hugh Jackman in a montage celebrating movie musicals.

“King Richard” is nominated in several categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Will Smith), Best Supporting Actress (Aunjanue Ellis), Best Screenplay (Zach Balin), and Best Film Editing (Pamela Martin).

Watch performance below:

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