BRISBANE, Australia - World No.1 Ashleigh Barty is set to donate the entirety of her prize money from singles and doubles at the Brisbane International to the Australian Red Cross to go towards the families and homes that have been affected by the devastating bushfires that have ravaged Australia since November.
"We have been kind of sitting down and thinking and with my team, with my family and everything and trying to think of ways that we can help," Barty told reporters at WTA All Access Hour at the Brisbane International, where she is the top seed. Barty is also set to play doubles with Kiki Bertens.
"Obviously there have been some really great initiatives from cricketers, tennis players, golfers, soccer players, all over the country people trying to help out as well. We have come to the decision that any of my prize money here in Brisbane will be donated to the Red Cross to go towards the families and homes that have been affected."
"It's been really terrible, it really has. 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. 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 with me.
"It was actually one of the first stops that I made in my offseason. Gary and I went down to a local RSPCA near where I am, one of the bigger locations and we decided that, early in November, we were in a position where we could donate and fundraise a little bit. So it was an opportunity for us to donate just over, a touch over $30,000 worth of funds and different bits and pieces to the RSPCA which they desperately needed at those times in early November. And obviously the worst of it is still out there at the moment, it's been going on for two months.
"But to be able to do that and just donate that little bit and just kind of do our part to help has been incredible and obviously now that it's not just moved from the wildlife, obviously wildlife have lost lives and lost homes, but it's also affected Australians with their lives and their homes.
"And now I've been able to give a little bit to the wildlife and to the people as well and it's been really, really special."
Main draw play in Brisbane begins on Monday, January 6th. Barty is also entered into the next week's Premier tournament, the Adelaide International, before heading to the first Slam of the season at the Australian Open.
"It's just a really tough time because tennis is a sport," Barty said. "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.
"What matters is that Australians stay safe and we kind of sort out the bigger issues because it's a game that we play, it's 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."
WTA players have been pledging donations to relief efforts for every ace hit over the Australian summer. Now the charitable efforts have pivoted to more creative means:
Well guys, you know I love Australia, but you also know I don't hit too many aces 😜— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) January 5, 2020
Sooo I want to help and my pledge is this... every time I give @darren_cahill a hard time in my box during all my matches in Aus, I will donate $200.
This way I will raise a lot more money ❤️🇦🇺
These bushfires in Australia are tearing my heart apart 😢... And as Simona was saying, I won't be raising much money either if I have to count on my serve 😅 ! Sooo I will donate 50$ for every drop shot winner that I'll make at the Australian Swing 😃💪 Much more efficient 😏 https://t.co/MBXt6BCjbD— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) January 5, 2020
Can coaches pitch in too? I’m donating $50 per ace of @alizecornet through all summer events she plays in NZ and Australia to help those affected by bushfires. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork #TeamAlizé https://t.co/abqf037jLs— Sandra Zaniewska (@szaniewska) January 5, 2020