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Ashleigh Barty to Donate Winnings to Australia
While people across the globe continue to #PrayForAustralia for the wildfires that have ravaged the country and its wildlife, tennis player Ashleigh Barty will donate the money she wins at the Brisbane International to help the recovery effort of her home country.
Ash Barty was flying across Australia, on her way from the Fed Cup final, when she witnessed for herself the signs of the devastation that the wildfire had caused. Until now, that wildfire is still raging on in large parts of the country.
Unlike those who are actually on the ground, the problem hasn’t dawned on Barty like it has for them. Nonetheless, the gravity of the situation and the damage it has caused is slowly but surely letting itself be known to her.
She went to an animal shelter when she got home and donated money and realized that it was mainly animals that were the main casualties of the fire. Now, with the country at the mercy of the worst wildfire season recorded in history and with a death toll of 24 that could still climb, she’s joining the fundraising for a bigger relief effort.
The number-one-ranked Barty is donating any prize money she will win at the Brisbane International which, according to the name of the tournament, will be played in Australia. She could, potentially, end up donating well over $250,000 to the Australian Red Cross.
‘It's been really terrible, it really has. For me this started two or three months ago’, said Barty about the damage that was caused by the wildfires - or, as the Aussies call it, bush fires. ‘We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country. The first I saw of it was actually flying home ... to the east coast and we could see some of the smoke and some of the fires’.
‘Obviously, the worst of it is still out there at the moment. Now it's not just the wildlife, it's also affected Australians with their lives and their home’. Actors, athletes, entertainers, and everyday citizens have donated millions upon millions of dollars in pledges to the relief effort. Sports organisers also set up fundraising events. Australian Open organizers will hold a special charity event on Jan. 15, five days before the season's first major begins in Melbourne.
Barty, who started her rise to the top at the last Australian Open and then won her first major title at the French Open, will participate in the fundraising event. Seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic is one of the players who have talked about the possible effects of the wildfires on the season-opening major. He also said that the start may have to be delayed because of the air quality around Melbourne.
Barty also agreed with this and said that the timing of the tournament was less important than their safety. ‘First and foremost, the reason that there is smoke in the air is what's most devastating at the moment for our country’, she said. ‘It's just a really tough time. Tennis is a sport, it's a game that we play, and there are certainly a lot of bigger things going on in Australia right now that we need to take care of’.
‘So, I mean, if it meant that we were delayed by a day or two ... it really doesn't matter. What matters is that Australians stay safe and we kind of sort out the bigger issues’.
‘Tennis is a game that we love, yes, and we try and be the ultimate professionals and do everything that we can, but it is a game. You need to put things into perspective and worry about the bigger things in life first’.
Worlds: Carlos Corpus