In less than two weeks, Monica Puig has raised over $100,000 USD for Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria - four times more than the Olympic champion’s initial goal.
Now, Maria Sharapova has added her name to the thousands of donors after pledging to donate all profits from Sugarpova.com, her line of premium gummy candies, from now until the end of the year directly to Puig’s hurricane relief fund.
“Less than 12 months ago I visited the beautiful island of Puerto Rico as the guest of Monica Puig for her exhibition match,” Sharapova wrote in a Facebook post. “I fell in love with the island, the people and the culture.
“From a distance, it is incredibly devastating to see how much the island and people are suffering. I have been following all the amazing and heartfelt work Monica has been doing for the island and I will continue to support her fundraising efforts.”
Sharapova expanded upon her praise for Puig after her second-round win at the China Open on Tuesday. "What [Puig] is doing is incredible," she said. "I have so much respect for the time and effort and money that she's contributed to the help there. Everything that I can do, all proceeds from Sugarpova.com are going to helping her fund."
"We're trying to work on a trip to go there together," Sharapova continued. "I don't know how our timing can align, but that's something I've spoken to our teams about and something that I hope we can make happen."
"Puerto Rico is my home and to see what's going on there truly breaks my heart," a tearful Puig told CNN via satellite from Wuhan last week. "Tennis is so small and life is so precious. It doesn't matter what I'm doing here out on the court.
"I can say that 100% of my heart is with Puerto Rico and I really wish that they come back bigger and stronger from this," Puig continued. "My initial goal was $25,000...and [it] made me extremely emotional to see that so many people care and so many people have reached out."
On Tuesday, Sharapova spoke more about her wonderful experience at the Puerto Rico exhibition. "I felt like the people and the island were so welcoming of me and my return," she said. "It was a very special night for me just to be part of this huge arena celebrating tennis. For fans to see what we were doing on a tennis court was really special."
"Now it's always difficult," said the five-time Grand Slam champion. "And as I said in my post, we see it from a distance. When you're not there, you know how much people are suffering, but you don't really feel it, but know it's there."
WTA Charities is the WTA's global philanthropic organization dedicated to making a positive impact across the globe. Our mission is to be a social responsibility vehicle built on the WTA's values to empower and provide for a better future. We're dedicated to combining, strengthening and enhancing the community and charitable efforts of the WTA through its members (players, alumnae and tournaments), along with our partners.