MIAMI — Friday evening at the Sony Ericsson Open, the tennis family came together for a special fundraising event for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster, dubbed “Tennis for Japan,” featuring the stars of the WTA and the ATP World Tour.
Kim Clijsters, Robin Soderling, Vera Zvonareva, and many others, including Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Kimiko Date-Krumm, and Ayumi Morita, walked through the stands of the Stadium Court to collect donations from fans and encouraged the public to show support for the victims.
In total, thanks to contributions from the WTA, ATP World Tour, the Grand Slams (Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open), Sony Ericsson, ITF, IMG, SAP, Itau, FILA, adidas and Lagardere, and the fans, the evening raised over $300,000, which will be donated to the Red Cross and other relief organizations to aid the victims of the disaster.
“Tennis is a global sport and when a tragedy strikes, the entire tennis community comes together and responds,” said Adam Barrett, Sony Ericsson Open tournament director. “I think the fact that the entire tennis family has come together tonight to help raise money for the relief effort makes a powerful statement about the sport, its players, and sponsors.”
“All of us have been deeply touched by the terrible disaster in Japan and I am glad that the tennis family was able to come together to organize this very important event so quickly, giving us the opportunity to raise money for the victims,” said Zvonareva, WTA World No. 3. “As tennis players, we travel the world and play in Japan each year, so the disaster has touched all of us on a personal level. I hope that this fundraiser is only a start and the players and the public will continue donating and help the victims in every way possible.”
“It has been horrible to follow what happened in Japan and it is our duty to do as much as we can to raise awareness and funds,” said Soderling, ATP World Tour World No. 4. “I am very proud of what the ATP and the rest of the tennis family has done so far and we need to continue to help as much as possible.”
Additionally, numerous players, including Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Ai Sugiyama, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, recorded video messages of hope supporting the victims. Videos will be shown throughout the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open and online on Facebook and both the WTA and the ATP World Tour’s websites.
Sony Ericsson Open’s defending champion and WTA World No.2 Clijsters was wearing a custom-designed FILA shirt, available for purchase at the Sony Ericsson Open. Proceeds from sales of the shirt will be donated to Japan earthquake relief funds. Players have also been collecting signed tennis memorabilia that will be auctioned to raise funds.
Shortly after the disaster, Nishikori established a Facebook page in partnership with the Red Cross to collect money for Japan’s victims. Fans can visit www.facebook.com/keinishikori and click on the “Japan Disaster Relief” tab in order to help. Nishikori also created an online auction at http://www.aceauthentic.com/keinishikori/main/index.php.
Date-Krumm established a Relief Fund account at www.kimiko-date.com/gien/index.html.
The WTA tournament in Tokyo, the Toray Pan Pacific Open, is also organizing a charity auction of the WTA players’ signed memorabilia and collectibles, which will kick off in April.
On Wednesday night in Miami, many of the ATP World Tour’s top players took part in the “Hope Match for Japan,” a charity football match between the ATP World Tour All-Stars and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, a North American Soccer League team.
Marcos Baghdatis, voted the team’s most valuable player, and Andy Murray scored goals for the ATP World Tour All-Stars, which was captained by World No. 2 Djokovic. A total of 17 ATP World Tour players took part, including World No. 1 Nadal and Nishikori.
The charity match, which the Fort Lauderdale Strikers won 4-2, was followed by a gala dinner that raised more than $100,000.