Ahead of the Australian Open, legends and stars do their bit to support bushfire victims
The worst bushfires in recent history have completely devastated Australia. The massive blazes have left homes damaged and badly affected the lives and livelihood of Australians. As the Australian Open 2020 begins on January 20, at Melbourne Park, the biggest names in tennis recently came together to raise funds for the bushfire relief effort. Following are some of the statistics with regards to the amount of money raised by the superstars:
- Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev and many more took part in the Australian Open ‘Rally for Relief.’ The charity exhibition match, held at Rod Laver Arena attracted a crowd of more than 15,000 and helped raise nearly $3.5mn USD.
- Rafael Nadal announced at the ‘Rally for Relief’ that he and Roger Federer would combine to donate $250k and drive support for the effort.
- At the ATP Cup, Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios made the initial pledge of $140 for each ace he hit, followed by Alex de Minaur, John Millman and Samantha Stosur pledging $175, $70 and $140 per ace respectively. Following the ATP Cup, Kyrgios announced he will a $100 donation every ace at AO2020.
- Serena Williams donated her ASB Classic winner’s cheque, worth $43,000 to Australian wildfire victims.
- ATP donated $725,000 on behalf of the players and ITF will contribute $400,000 for the relief effort.
Tennis legends Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe, who are previewing the Australian Open, provided their views on the Australian bushfire and how it might affect the tournament.
Need for an air quality policy:
JOHN McENROE: Well, I think there is an air quality policy. I actually did a radio show with my brother, ESPN, the Stephen A. Smith show, and we had Craig Tiley on, the tournament director who runs things down there, and he never thought they'd have to see the day, but that's exactly what's happening. I don't know, I'm reading what you're reading in the qualifying that some players were coughing and one of them had to stop, and they stopped play for a bit, and that's going to be an ongoing issue, actually.
This is a terrible situation down there, and I firmly believe they're worried about the fans and the players, but it would be extremely difficult to envision, at least to me at this point, that they're going to not play or move the dates. That's way too difficult it would appear. But I suppose anything could happen.
But at the moment, I think that at least what Craig Tiley told us last week, that the conditions there generally around the tournament when it starts are going to be pretty -- more favourable than they had been a few weeks ago. So I'm hopeful that that was just a temporary blip yesterday. But that's clearly an ongoing issue.
CHRISSIE EVERT: Yeah, I think that the bigger cities probably aren't as affected as much with the air, but when I turn on the TV and I heard that Genie Bouchard had been coughing and she was complaining, and I don't know who the player was that pulled out, and they need to have some sort of measure, not only with the heat but about the air, because it is a health issue, and especially when it gets on to three out of five sets and you're out there for a long time. You want to be able to breathe some clean air.
I think that they really have to keep a close eye on it. You know, it's really devastating what's happening, and I guess I'm thinking of the whole country and all the animals and all the people that are affected. The tournament seems to be such a small sort of thing compared to what's happening in the country, but I would put the players' health first for sure, and even if they had to play at a different time. It doesn't matter. It's really -- we're talking about lives.
Players’ health, top priority:
CHRISSIE EVERT: You know, I have to say I haven't -- I probably should have done my homework a little bit more and talked to Micky Lawler or Steve, and I haven't. But I do know the WTA, the players, they have a huge voice, and I think if there was a problem, they would all get together and go to the WTA and say, this is unacceptable, and that's what player unions are based on and built for, and I think if that would happen -- that would have to be the thing that would happen to sort of postpone play at this point. It's not going to be one or two players complaining, it's going to have to be WTA getting together and saying -- with saying this, look, the sun could be out and the air could be great from here on in. I'm not sure about wearing my broadcaster hat about whether the weather is going to be bad because I think unfortunately with the wind I think you have to take it day by day. But yeah, I think the ATP and the WTA would have to get together and voice their opinion if the air does continue to be poor.
JOHN McENROE: Well, as you can imagine, I don't think anyone has an easy answer, whether it's the players or the tournament organizers or the government of Australia. So this is something that hasn't been experienced. Listen, they have fires all the time in Australia. That's an issue. But this is the worst it's ever been. And there's still a couple more months in their summer. So this is something that's sort of unprecedented that we're talking about this for the first couple questions on the conference call. So that obviously makes you realize how big an issue it is.
Watch Australian Open 2020 live and exclusive from 20th January 2020 on SONY SIX and SONY TEN 2 channels from 05:30 AM (IST)