On Wednesday, the US Open held its “Tennis Plays for Peace” event for the relief of Ukraine before the start of the final Grand Slam event of the year, raising 1, $2 million, according to the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
The event held in New York was attended by Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, John McEnroe, Coco Gauff, Carlos Alcaraz, Leylah Fernandez, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jessica Pegula, Matteo Berrettini, Maria Sakkari, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe , Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton.
Nadal and Swiatek squared off against McEnroe and Gauff in one of the highlights of the evening.
The world of women no. 1 Swiatek said: “For me, especially because Ukraine is right next to my country and because we Poles are really united and we help each other, and I want to take every opportunity to show people that we can all be united.”
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American star Coco Gauff added: “For me, speaking is something that I always love. I’ve always said that you can change the world with your racket.
“So to be here today at Armstrong and play for such an amazing cause is something I won’t take for granted, and I’m grateful to be doing it among the legends of the sport.”
Ukrainian players Dayana Yastremska, Katarina Zavatska and Daria Snigur, as well as former players Sergiy Stakhovsky and Olga Savchuk, were also at Louis Armstrong Stadium, while 12-year-old Ustyn Chornyy of Ukraine Chorus Dumka from New York , sang the National Anthem of Ukraine.
The USTA said all proceeds from the event went to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund, which supports humanitarian assistance to affected communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where refugees Ukrainians have fled.
Several hours before the event, the USTA announced that Victoria Azarenka of Belarus would not participate, saying: “Over the past 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not will participate in our ‘Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition’ this afternoon.
“Vika is a leading player and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivity towards Ukrainian players and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right path for us.”
The event comes after Ukraine’s Ministry of Youth and Sports announced in a statement on Tuesday that 133 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have died so far in the six months since the Russian invasion of the country.