Sports stars across Australia have followed the lead of Nick Kyrgios and pledged money towards fundraising efforts for bushfire victims.
In an emotional post-match interview on Friday night after belting 20 aces in his ATP Cup-opening defeat of Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff in Brisbane, Kyrgios said his home town of Canberra had the most toxic air in the world after devastating bushfires wiped out communities on the NSW south coast last week.
He pledged to donate $200 for every ace he hit this summer. On Friday night, he smashed 20, donating $4000 to the Red Cross’ bushfire appeal.
Earlier on Wednesday, he urged Tennis Australia to organise an exhibition match and by Friday he kick-started a pledge to donate. His teammates followed suit and by Friday night $21,000 had been raised after 216 aces were served up in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth on day one of the 10-day event.
Australia’s rugby sevens players then got on board, pledging donations of $500 for each try they score.
He was in tears when asked about his tweet and the climate disaster in Australia after his 6-4 7-6(4) victory: “We’ve got the ability and the platform to do something like that. My hometown is Canberra and we have the most toxic air in the world.
“It’s hard,” Kyrgios said, wiping away tears, receiving support from the crowd as they cheered him on.
“All the families, firefighters, animals, everyone, losing homes, losing families.
“It’s bigger than tennis.”
"It's bigger than tennis."
All class from Nick Kyrgios. ❤️️
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 3, 2020
His actions in recent days have received wide support and encouragement, some on social media suggesting he’s showing more leadership during the country’s bushfire crisis than Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Others describing him as “legend” and a boy with a “huge heart”.
It’s a strange world when Nick Kyrgios shows more leadership than some politicians.
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) January 2, 2020
Hats off to Nick Kyrgios … he has been quite rightly criticised at times during his career but the example he has set in rousing the sports community to raise funds for bushfire victims is to be congratulated 👏 🎾 #AustraliaBushfires
— Glenn Mitchell (@MitchellGlenn) January 3, 2020
Seems incredible to be saying this but Nick Kyrgios seems to know more about leadership than our PM
— Alan Garner (@GarnAlan) January 3, 2020
Team USA’s John Isner so far leads the list of big hitters, racking up 33 aces despite going down to Norway’s Casper Ruud in three sets at RAC Arena in Perth.
Australia’s men’s and women’s sevens teams have meanwhile promised $500 to the Red Cross every time they touch down at Rugby Australia’s annual Sydney 7s tournament next month.
Wallabies winger Reece Hodge is also auctioning off a signed Australian jersey along with his match-worn boots from the recent Rugby World Cup via his Instagram account.
Tennis Australia will launch a “Rally for Relief” exhibition at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on January 15 and donate proceeds from a Jessica Mauboy concert on January 19 to the Red Cross appeal.
TA chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley says $1m will be granted to communities to rebuild tennis facilities.
“I’m glad the tennis world has taken the initiative and hopefully we can do whatever we can,” Kyrgios said on Friday.
“We all earn a lot of money and at this stage a bottle of water can save a life.”
NBA-bound LaMelo Ball, who plays for Illawarra Hawks in the NBL, has pledged to donate one month of his salary to help victims of the devastating fires.
Big Bash League captains, Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn and Melbourne Stars’ Glenn Maxwell as well as Hurricanes batsman D’Arcy Short, have pledged $250 for each six they hit in the competition.
Former Australian baseballer Simone Wearne has kickstarted a campaign to donate for every home run hit in the Australian softball championships.
Australia’s cricketers will 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.
Melbourne A-League clubs – Victory, City and Western United – will donate $2 from every ticket sold at their matches this weekend.