Serena Williams is the latest among the series of tennis superstars who give to the Australian bushfires relief effort. That’s after winning the Auckland Classic on Sunday, January 12.
She had a two-set (6-3, 6-4) victory against the unseeded Jessica Pegula. Pegula has one title under her name.
Williams donated €38,600 to the relief efforts.
Heating up the Australian Open expectations
The Auckland Classic is Williams’ 73rd title from the WTA, and her first WTA title since 2017. The Auckland Classic title was also her first after becoming a mom to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Interestingly, Williams won the Australian Open in 2017 while pregnant with her.
What’s more interesting about these facts and records is: Williams won her first WTA title in 1999. She’s been playing tennis for four decades!
She turned pro in October 1995.
Her Auckland Classic win only proved that Williams is still on top of her game. She acknowledged her game is sharpening as she heads to Melbourne.
Hopes are high for Williams’ fans as expectations are raised for this year’s Australian Open.
If she wins the title, she would equal Margaret Court’s Grand Slam title records to 24.
Not to mention, Williams had won several Australian Open titles in both singles and doubles. She has seven singles titles and four doubles titles. She also appeared in the finals of the 1999 mixed doubles.
Australia as her second home for 20 years
Seeing the devastation firsthand, Williams had been deeply affected by the ongoing bushfires in the South.
“I’ve been playing in Australia for over 20 years, and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that has been happening in Australia with all the fire,” Williams said.
She was already decided to give the money to the relief appeal even before the tournament started.
Other tennis players including Novak Djokovic, Rodger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Maria Sharapova, and Simona Halep have also shared their blessings, pledging personal donations.
Some players followed through Kyrgios lead in dedicating their aces to the bushfire relief campaign.
The International Tennis Federation, Wimbledon, French Open, and ATP have donated €806,000.
Indeed, the international tennis community is doing everything it could to extend help to the home of the first Grand Slam tournament.
More updates on the Australian Open
Poor air quality in Melbourne is making practising difficult the ongoing bushfires have caused.
Qualifying rounds were also delayed for about an hour for the same reason.
At least six players were scheduled to play on Melbourne Park at 11 am on January 14. However, the Air Quality Index was at 229, which is categorised as “very unhealthy.”
According to its organisers, the conditions are continuously monitored. They expect improvements in the coming days.
Ongoing consultations with the representatives of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria, the Bureau of Meteorology, and medical teams are conducted.
The organisers said, “As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority.”
The Australian Open is scheduled to start on January 20.