News National Sports stars pledge money for fire victims

Sports stars pledge money for fire victims

Australia's ATP Cup team (L to R) Alex De Minaur, captain Lleyton Hewitt, John Millman, Chris Guccione, John Peers and Nick Kyrgios in Brisbane. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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Sports stars from around Australia have followed the lead of tennis star Nick Kyrgios and pledged money towards fundraising efforts for bushfire victims.

Kyrgios kickstarted a fundraising campaign on Wednesday by suggesting Tennis Australia hold a charity exhibition match as tennis’ international champions were already in Australia for tournaments in the lead-up to the Australian Open on January 20.

By Thursday he’d decided to donate $200 from every ace he serves this summer.

Last year the world No.30 nailed 537 aces. If he returns that form this summer, he could be donating more than $107,000 to fire-ravaged bushfire communities.

Within hours of issuing the challenge on social media, fellow Australian players Alex de Minaur, John Millman and Samantha Stosur, among others, also vowed to donate money from their aces.

The new ATP Cup also got on board, announcing that for every ace served over the next 10 days across the three venues they will send $100 to the Australian Red Cross, with the final figure expected to surpass $150,000.

On Friday afternoon, Tennis Australia announced it would host a “Rally for Relief” exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday January 15.

They will also donate proceeds from a Jessica Mauboy concert on Sunday Jan 19 to the Red Cross appeal and grant $1m for communities to rebuild tennis facilities.

TA chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the players to take part in the exhibition would be announced in coming days.

The world’s top two players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, are currently in Australia, preparing for the grand slam tournament.

“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,” Tiley said.

Illawarra Hawks star and NBA-bound LaMelo Ball pledged to donate one month of his NBL salary to help victims of the devastating fires.

“It’s sad to see what is happening on the south coast of Australia,” Ball said in a statement.

“People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out.”

Big Bash League captains, Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn and Melbourne Stars’ Glenn Maxwell as well as Hurricanes batsman D’Arcy Short, have all pledged $250 for each six they hit in the competition.

“It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country,” Lynn tweeted.

Australia’s cricketers will also auction off signed shirts from the Boxing Day Test while Cricket Australia will throw open the gates to firefighters during two SCG one-dayers against New Zealand in March, also using the trans-Tasman series as a fundraising drive.

-with AAP