World number one Ashleigh Barty has decided to donate her winnings from this week’s Brisbane International to the victims of Australia’s raging bushfire crisis.
Barty on Sunday (December 5) said that she had already contributed Aus$ 30,000 to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to help with injured wildlife.
She has now revealed that her Brisbane winnings – potentially $250,000 – will be given to the Red Cross.
“I think for me this started two or three months ago. We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country,” Barty said.
“And the first I saw of it was actually flying home from the Fed Cup final from Perth back to the east coast of Australia and we could see some of the smoke and some of the fires from the plane, so that really hit home,” she added.
“Obviously the worst of it is still out there at the moment,” she predicted.
Earlier this week, Nick Kyrgios pledged Aus$200 (US$140) for each ace he serves across the Australian summer of tennis, starting with the ongoing ATP Cup.
“I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer,” tweeted the 24-year-old.
Other tennis and cricket stars, including Alex de Minaur, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, David Warner, and Yuvraj Singh also lent their support towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.
In fact, Cricket Australia announced that the upcoming ODI series in March against New Zealand will be used to raise money which will go to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund for the rehabilitation of those affected.
Disturbed by the situation, the cricketers from Australia and New Zealand were seen wearing black armbands on Friday (December 3) as a mark of respect for the 18 dead and for the firefighters who are trying to douse the flames.
Barty enjoyed a stellar 2019, winning the French Open and the WTA Finals on her way to becoming the first Australian women’s number one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.
Also read: Heatwave intensifies bush fires in Australia
The 23-year-old grew up in the Queensland city of Ipswich, just down the road from the Queensland Tennis Centre, and said she was thrilled to see so many people coming to watch her train this week.
“You think, first off, qualifiers for the women’s event and there are that many kids out there watching players practice, watching people play, that really brought a smile to my face,” she said.
“And that kind of flicked me into tournament mode.”
Barty will take extra pressure into the Australian Open as she tries to become the first local winner since Chris O’Neill took the title in 1978.
“I know that I’ve done all of my work and all of my training well,” she said.
“I’ve done it to the best of my ability, and now it’s about coming out there and competing. That’s why we do all the hard work. It’s why we put in all the hours, just to come out and enjoy the competition,” she added.
(With inputs from agencies)