Cometh the pandemic – cometh the man

Alastair McIver reports on how tennis’ top men players are supporting those in need during Coronavirus

Now more than ever we must come together to help families in need Roger Federer

We tennis fans may sometimes forget – particularly after watching one of our tennis heroes executing a running forehand drive following an energy sapping 28 shot rally in 30-degree heat in Melbourne – that players, at the end of the day, are mere human beings!

If Covid-19 has proved anything, it is that there is more to our top tennis players than just a fizzing forehand or a clinical overhead smash.

Players from all continents have been putting their hands deep into their pockets, donating cash as well as historic memorabilia in support of their home nations’ needs.

A Who’s Who of tennis greats, including Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Del Potro and Kyrios have all played some sort of part in supporting their native country’s needs in a variety of innovative ways. There will be many more.

Contributions have varied enormously but one or two could be considered eye catching, not least the $1 million donation Roger and Mirka Federer made to a feeding programme for vulnerable families in Africa.

“Now more than ever we must come together to help families in need,” said Federer, a sentiment endorsed by former pro Andy Roddick and his wife Brooklyn who also made a donation from their own Foundation to the needy of Texas. The Andy Roddick Foundation set up a Family Emergency Fund in Austin, saying, “We have to serve families that put their faith in us.”

Few would disagree with either sentiment. In fact, Federer made public his support for Roddick’s initiative with a ‘…wonderful gesture – way to go Andy’ tweet.

Meanwhile, another married couple, Novak and Jelena Djokovic, announced a €1m donation through the Novak Djokovic Foundation for the purchase of ventilators and medical equipment to support hospitals and other medical institutions in their native Serbia.

Mixed doubles has never looked so good!

Other major cash donors included the UK’s Sir Andy Murray, who, after defeating Belgium’s David Goffin in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro final – a replacement for the actual, cancelled event – announced that he would split his €45,000 prize money equally between the UK’s NHS and the Professional Player Relief Programme.

In France, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Guy Forget, Henry Leconte and Richard Gasquet put together a programme which attracted over 100 pieces of tennis memorabilia for a charity auction in May which raised funds for Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris, while in Bulgaria, 2017 ATP Finals champion, Grigor Dimitrov donated much needed ventilators to his local hospital in Haskovo.

Staying with the hospital theme, Juan Martin Del Potro donated the shoes he wore during the 2013 Wimbledon semi-finals against Novak Djokovic to a charity auction in support of an Argentinean hospital.

Nick Kyrgios shows another side to his character

© Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Australian Nick Kyrgios – ever the surprise package – went the personal route – inviting fans who might be struggling with lockdown, to get in touch via his Instagram account.

His response?

“Hey guys, tomorrow I will be doing as many deliveries as I can throughout the day to the nearest people I have been in contact with. If I haven’t read your message yet, trust me I will do my absolute best to get to yours.”

Love him or loathe him, this – amongst all of the worthy support from the tennis fraternity – was class.



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