The world’s best tennis players, who will face one another over the next fortnight with the US Open trophy at stake, banded together for a Tennis Plays For Peace exhibition in support of Ukrainian humanitarian relief.
Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, John McEnroe and many more stars thrilled a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium for two hours of tennis to raise money for those suffering in Ukraine on Wednesday night, with recently retired Ukrainian players Sergiy Stakhovsky and Olga Savchuk in attendance.
“It has been a very tough couple of years in terms of the pandemic, now with the war,” ATP Tour quoted Nadal. “Excited to be back of course, always a pleasure to play in New York and in front of probably the best crowd of the world.”
After an opening ceremony featuring Stakhovsky, Savchuk and host Patrick McEnroe, the Ukrainian national anthem was performed and Nadal took the court for a mixed doubles match alongside Swiatek against Gauff and McEnroe.
“Being on the court with John, Rafa and Iga, World No. 1, it’s really crazy here in New York,” Gauff said. “I’m happy that I’m able to do it for this cause and you guys all know me, I like to speak out when it’s right. I’m glad that I was able to be a part of this.”
Swiatek snuck in a joke about ‘Coach Rafa’: “On the last point he told me that John is going to serve wide and he was wrong. He’s wrong sometimes, wow!” she said as Nadal laughed. Swiatek has previously held her own charity event in support of Ukrainian children. The World No. 1 was happy to spend her time for the cause again.”
McEnroe, who also ironically spent time as the chair umpire later in the event, grew up 15 minutes from Flushing Meadows. The former World No. 1 thanked the crowd for their support.