Tennis Australia announce ‘Rally for Relief’ charity match for bushfire victims

Hannah Wilks:

After Nick Kyrgios urged Tennis Australia to hold a pre-Australian Open exhibition match to raise money for victims of the bushfires, tennis authorities respond by announcing ‘Rally for Relief’ on 15 January.

Nick Kyrgios started the ball rolling and the tennis community is now leaping on board, eager to show support for those affected by the Australian bushfires.

With Australia the primary home for the first month of the tennis season in January, and the world’s best players gathering on the continent for the start of the Australian Open on 20 January, Kyrgios was the first to float the idea of a charity match on social media.

‘C’mon @TennisAustralia surely we can do a pre @AustralianOpen exho to raise funds for those affected by the fires?’ Kyrgios wrote on Wednesday.

Tennis Australia have responded by announcing ‘Rally for Relief’, an exhibition match to be played on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday 15 January.

‘Many of the world’s top players are throwing their support behind the cause, with the names of players participating to be revealed in the coming days,’ Tennis Australia announced.

Kyrgios was the first to pledge $200 for every ace he served over the Australian tennis summer, and was joined by compatriots Alex de Minaur, Samantha Stosur and John Millman.

The ATP Cup responded by confirming that $100 would be donated to the Red Cross for every ace served at the tournament taking place in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from 3-12 January.

The exhibition match is part of Tennis Australia’s ‘Aces for Bushfire Relief’ programme, which includes the other ATP and WTA tournaments held in Australia – the Brisbane International, Adelaide International, Hobart International and Apis Canberra International, which has had to relocate from Canberra to Bendigo due to the bushfires – pledging to donate $100 for every ace served at their events.

‘Tennis Australia is also working to further mobilise the international tennis community – the players, the WTA and ATP and other tennis bodies and events – to try and reach and surpass the target of $100 per ace at all events in January,’ the statement added.

The Aces for Bushfire Relief programme also includes a $1 million donation from Tennis Australia to rebuild community and tennis facilities damaged or lost to the bushfires, and proceeds to be donated from the AO Live Stage concert with Jessica Maubay on Sunday 19 January.

Main-draw play at the Australian Open begins on Monday 20 January.

‘It is heartbreaking to see the devastation the bushfires are wreaking across the country and to see so many people and communities suffering,’ Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia, said.

‘The Aces for Bushfire Relief initiative gives the tennis community the opportunity to galvanise our sport to support and raise much needed funds to help those who are most in need.

‘We are working closely with the top players and have already had a great response, with many of them keen to help this incredibly important cause.’

The Australian Open has hosted other charity matches in the past, including a memorable ‘Hit for Haiti’ in 2010 to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti, which was proposed by Roger Federer and organized in under 24 hours.

After playing his first match at the ATP Cup – and hitting 20 aces in the course of his win over Jan-Lennard Struff – Kyrgios became visibly emotional when talking about the impact of the bushfires.

‘My hometown’s Canberra and we’ve got the most toxic air in the world at the moment, so that’s pretty sad,’ he said before briefly tearing up.