Tennis stars raise nearly $3.5 million for wildfire relief ahead of Australian Open

While smoke from the Australian wildfires has engulfed Melbourne and the Australian Open this month, several of tennis’ biggest stars came together on Wednesday night to raise nearly $3.5 million dollars to help those impacted across the region.

Roger Federer beat Nick Kyrgios in a one-set exhibition match at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne — which is set to host the Australian Open next month — in front of a crowd of more than 15,000 people. Others, including Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Coco Gauff and more, took part in various competitions, including some with local first responders, throughout the Rally for Relief fundraiser. 

With smoke surrounding the city, some of Tennis biggest stars raised millions of dollars on Wednesday night for those impacted by the widespread wildfires in Australia. (Scott Barbour/AAP Image/AP)

In total, more than $4.8 million AUD was raised. The fundraiser will continue throughout the tournament. Both Nadal and Federer announced that they were each personally donating $250,000. 

At least 28 people have died so far in the wildfires throughout the country, and more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged in New South Wales alone, according to CNN. One professor estimated that 480 million animals may have been killed already in that state, too, according to the New York Times.

Smoke has plagued the tournament so far, too, causing several days of qualifying play to be postponed. Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic even collapsed in a coughing fit during her qualifying match and was forced to retire due to the poor air quality in the city.

“Back home, when I was in Canberra, I couldn’t even go outside. It was emotional,” Kyrgios, an Australian native, said. “I’m just so happy we had Rodger, Novak, Rafa, some of the greats to get behind it. Everyone around the world, the awareness has grown and I think we’re doing everything we possibly can to overcome this together.”

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