Tennis stars Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Coco Gauff were just some of the athletes in attendance

By Georgia Slater
January 15, 2020 03:09 PM
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The Australian Open Rally for Relief proved extremely successful Wednesday, serving up $3.5 million to aid the devastating Australian bushfires.

Top tennis stars gathered at Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena — days ahead of the Grand Slam tennis tournament, which begins on Jan. 19 — for an exhibition match to raise money for the wildfires fund, even inviting volunteer firefighters onto the court to play against the athletes, CNN reported.

Viewers watched as several athletes including Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal participated in the rally.

Williams, Novak Djokovic, Petra Kvitova and Dominic Thiem beat Caroline Wozniacki, Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev 4-3 in a doubles match before Federer defeated Nick Kyrigios 7-6 in a singles match.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Credit: Sydney Low/CSM/Shutterstock

According to the outlet, before the organization announced the total amount raised at the event, Nadal and Federer shared they would be donating $172,220 together to combat the fires. All ticket proceeds from the Australian Open Rally for Relief were also to be donated to bushfire relief efforts.

Tennis Australia, the organization that put on the rally, additionally pledged $69 for every ace scored at matches leading up to the open, CNN reported. The group will also be donating $700,000 to rebuild tennis facilities that were destroyed in the fires.

Rally for Relief in Melbourne, Australia
Credit: SCOTT BARBOUR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“We felt it was vital we use all our events across the summer to make a meaningful contribution to help these people and communities rebuild their lives,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said in a statement at the time the event was revealed. “The response from the tennis community – our players, clubs, partners and international tennis bodies – has been overwhelming and it’s wonderful to see everyone pull together.”

The organization announced the relief rally after Kyrgios tweeted at Tennis Australia in early January, suggesting that the organization put on a charity exhibition match to raise funds for wildfire victims. The athlete then kicked off the donations by pledging $200 Australian dollars for every ace he hits at upcoming matches.

According to CNN, Kyrgios, 24, hit 20 aces during a match on Jan. 3, adding up to a donation of $4,000 Australian dollars.

Rafael Nada & local firefighter Deb Borg
Credit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova — who was granted wild card entry for the Australian Open — also donated $17,400 towards relief efforts, asking fellow tennis player Djokovic to match her contribution. The Serbian athlete agreed and donated $17,400.

Sharapova also revealed on Jan. 5 that she had left 10 pairs of signed tennis shoes at her Brisbane hotel that could be bought for $206, which she said would be donated to the Red Cross. Within hours the shoes were purchased and the athlete told her Twitter followers that “a 3K donation will be on its way to the Red Cross tomorrow!!”

These tennis stars join a long list of celebrities and athletes who have been using their platform to donate and raise funds for the disastrous fires that have been ravaging the country since September.

Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova
Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty

According to NPR, experts said that the fires will go on for months.