A sold-out Rod Laver Arena was treated to a show of camaraderie and sportsmanship on Wednesday night as some of the game's biggest stars came together in support of Tennis Plays for Peace.
In addition to Hologic WTA Tour Top 10 stars Coco Gauff and Maria Sakkari, and Ukrainians Marta Kostyuk and Dayana Yastremska, the exhibition event also featured ATP stars Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Alex de Minaur and Frances Tiafoe.
It was hosted by wheelchair tennis legend Dylan Alcott.
Why Tennis Plays for Peace.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 11, 2023
Donate today 👉 https://t.co/YQwCwv5iwE pic.twitter.com/TtIgPROScx
Over the course of the evening, the game's current stars also met, and traded groundstrokes with, two of the world's oldest competitive tennis players: Ukraine's Leonid Stanislavskyi, who is 98, and Australia's Henry Young, who is 99.
The event also featured musical performances by the duo Vika & Linda, and the Melbourne-based Volya: Ukrainian Combined Choir.
"Is it too late for a wildcard?"— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 11, 2023
The centurions are smashing it on the RLA stage! 🏟#AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/DHi0q6nW1O
The players were divided into two teams, blue and yellow -- Ukraine's national colors -- and were mic'd up on court as they took turns playing points for their respective teams.
One of the night's most enjoyable highlights came when Gauff and Yastremska faced Kostyuk and Tiafoe in a doubles match. The two Americans, who are good friends, bantered as they traded groundstrokes from the baseline.
Though Tiafoe was determined to "break [her] down" and force Gauff into an error, the 18-year-old got the last laugh in the end.
"I'll win this rally, bro," Gauff joked. "My backhand and your forehand? I'll take this all day."
Comfy there, @marta_kostyuk? 🪑@CocoGauff gets the bragging rights over @FTiafoe 😅#AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/LE9CYkPEmf— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 11, 2023
The event was the second such fundraiser to be held at a Grand Slam since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a year ago. A similar event held at last summer's US Open raised $1.2 million for humanitarian relief in Ukraine, part of $2 million raised by that Grand Slam as a whole.
All funds raised from the event will go to UNICEF Australia and Global Giving, two organizations that are providing on-the-ground relief in Ukraine.