Rafael Nadal plays an exhibition match at Tennis Plays for Peace | Photo by Allison Joseph/USTA
FLUSHING, NY – The Tennis Plays for Peace program, an awareness and humanitarian aid plan to benefit the people of Ukraine, raised $1.2 million on Wednesday night, Aug. 24, at the Louis Armstrong Stadium. It is one of the nighttime events of US Open Fan Week, which returns after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Wednesday’s event, it featured some of the biggest names in the tennis world, including 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. They played in a series of singles and mixed doubles matches.
This event was part of the US Open’s tournament-long effort to raise awareness and aid for Ukraine, including the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performing during the Opening Night Ceremonies on Aug. 29.
Ukraine, which observes its independence day on Aug. 24, was represented on the court by players Dayana Yastremska, Katarina Zavatska, Daria Snigur, and former players Sergiy Stakhovsky and Olga Savchuk. Twelve-year-old Ustyn Chornyy, from the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, sang the Ukrainian national anthem. Representatives from Manhattan’s traditional Ukrainian restaurant Veselka also made a special appearance.
“The US Open is a stage that attracts millions of passionate fans, and it is incumbent upon us to help guide this passion to help those who desperately need it,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Mike McNulty. “This is a vitally-important cause, and I’m proud of the way in which our sport has rallied together to lend a much-needed hand to our friends in Ukraine. I’m likewise proud that we are able to use the global platform of the US Open to enhance the giving effort, and I urge everyone to do all they can to help us show the people of Ukraine that we stand with them in their time of need.”
USTA said the proceeds from the event are going to GlobalGiving, the international non-profit identified by Tennis Plays for Peace. All donations to GlobalGiving’s Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund will support humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled. GlobalGiving’s local partners are bringing relief to devastated but determined communities, and they need resources to continue their life-saving work.
Earlier this year, the global tennis bodies established this fundraising campaign with the GlobalGiving charity. To date, the tennis community has raised more than $1M to support this fund, and both Tours and the other entities have provided support to Ukrainian tennis players and their families.
Tennis Plays for Peace comprises all seven governing bodies, including the four Grand Slam events.
-With Ricky Rillera/PDM