Big props to all of our favorite tennis stars for doing their bit to help earthquake survivors in Haiti. And additional props to Roger Federer for rallying the troops. (And a pat on the back to tournament organizers who are no doubt scrambling to make this happen):
Here’s the gist on Sunday’s surprise tennis fundraiser at Melbourne Park (via AustralianOpen.com):
Several of the world’s top tennis players will star in a special fundraising event to help raise money for survivors of Tuesday’s Haiti earthquake at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.
Although it’s the eve of the Australian Open’s first round, world No. 1 Roger Federer has put aside thoughts of his preparation and brought together an entourage of fellow stars to play a special mixed-doubles event at the stadium to support Haiti.
Top-ranked players Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams and Sam Stosur will also give up their last day of preparation to take to the court for the special event that was Federer’s brainchild.
Federer said all proceeds will go to the Haiti earthquake victims, and he hopes to “fill the stadium”.
“I had the idea we could do something to help Haiti after the tragic earthquake. So, I spoke to some other top players … they said ‘yes, we should do something’,” Federer said.
The action will start at Melbourne Park from 2pm Sunday, and tickets are available from Rod Laver Arena and Federation Square from 9am or at the gate. Entry is $10 for adults and free for children aged under 12.
The play will be mixed doubles matches, with pairings of the star players. Federer had not decided on a partner late Saturday, but joked that he would “choose wisely”.
The Swiss star said he was happy to do whatever he could to assist.
“I think it’s something as a tennis family we’re very happy to do. I know it’s on the eve of the first Grand Slam of the season, so it’s for some not so easy maybe mentally to separate, you know, a few things – but I think it’s a great initiative.”
Federer encourage Melburnians to come down and support the players and the cause.
“I’m happy we can go through with it and have some fun tomorrow. It may be a nice day also for families to come and see some top players play,” he said.
The devastating earthquake which hit Haiti on Tuesday measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale and has left tens of thousands of people dead. The United Nations has launched an appeal for hundreds of millions of dollars to try to help around three million people in need.
For those lucky enough to attend the event – don’t forget to bring some extra money for the inevitable collection bucket! (Speaking of: American Red Cross)
Here’s Roger’s full comment on the event, via Saturday’s press conference:
Q. Can you tell us more about what you’re doing for the people of Haiti tomorrow.
ROGER FEDERER: I had the idea that we could do something, you know, to help Haiti after the tragic earthquake. So I spoke to some other top players. I got some connections, you know (smiling). They all said, Yes, we should do something.
So we’re going to play doubles or mixed doubles tomorrow, also with top women’s players, try to fill the stadium. This is where you guys can help. Maybe put it out in the press. I think there will be a donation at the door of $10 to come and see us play.
I think it’s something as a tennis family we’re very happy to do. I know it’s on the eve of the first Grand Slam of the season, so it’s for some not so easy maybe mentally to separate, you know, a few things. But I think it’s a great initiative.
Happy we can go through it, have some fun tomorrow. Maybe nice day also for families to come and see some top players play.
Q. Chosen your partner yet?
ROGER FEDERER: I haven’t chosen yet. I’ll pick wisely (smiling).
You may remember that Federer spearheaded a Unicef benefit at the 2005 Indian Wells tournament for victims of the South Asian tsunamis. Here’s some footage from that event: