Tennis' biggest stars gathered Wednesday night under the lights of Louis Armstrong Stadium to play for peace.
WTA stars Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari, Leylah Fernandez, Dayana Yastremska, Katarina Zavatska and Daria Snigur joined ATP stars including Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Carlos Alcaraz at the Tennis Plays for Peace exhibition ahead of the US Open, the year's final Grand Slam.
All proceeds from the exhibition were to be donated 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.
US Open tournament director Stacey Allaster opened the event by saying that $1.2 million for Ukraine was expected to be raised over the course of the US Open.
Five doubles sets were played across the exhibition: Swiatek and Nadal first faced John McEnroe and Gauff, followed by Pegula and Ben Shelton facing Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
After Swiatek and Nadal won the spirited set, Swiatek spoke about how the situation in Ukraine has been top of mind for her over the last six months.
Swiatek called on the Ukrainian people to stay strong in her victory speech at Roland Garros in June, and last month, raised 500,000 Euros in support of Ukrainian children at an exhibition event in Poland that also featured Agnieszka Radwanska and Elina Svitolina.
Zavatska was the first Ukrainian player to take the court on the night, partnering Italy's Berrettini against Sakkari and Tsitsipas. One of the highlights of their set was Tsitsipas committing to make an individual donation in support of the Ukraine Crisis Relief Fund.
Zavatska, who represented Ukraine in Billie Jean King Cup play against the U.S. earlier this year called special attention to the fact that the exhibition was held on Aug. 24, or Ukraine's Independence Day.
“On this day, all the Ukrainian people ... this year’s fireworks are not the same," she said. "I really wish next year we will celebrate this day with a free Ukraine.”
After a men's doubles set between Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Alcaraz, Tiafoe returned to the court to partner Yastremska against Snigur and Sebastian Korda.
Draped in a Ukrainian flag at the conclusion of the set that she and Tiafoe won, Yastremska spoke from her heart and spoke of the future she hoped to see: “One day … every single person is going to live in peace. And everything is going to be OK.”