Tennis stars rally in fight against coronavirus


Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, are donating 1 million Euros — about $1.1 million — to buy ventilators and other equipment for hospitals in their native Serbia to assist in the fight against the coronavirus.

“The fight is not easy, numbers are not pleasant, but I am convinced that we will manage to make it out of this stronger than before,” Djokovic said Friday in comments released by his foundation.

“It is important to remain united in this fight, to help each other, so we can defeat this virus faster and easier. We would like to use this opportunity to invite everyone else to join us and help numerous families and people who need help to survive and get healthy again.”

The foundation’s focus is on preschool education for children in Serbia, but Djokovic has shifted gears in recent days. He said his team has researched how to procure the equipment, especially ventilators, and will be “overseeing the whole thing and ensure that there are no problems.”

The Djokovic donation follows that of Roger Federer and his wife, Mirka, who earlier this week donated about $1 million to families in Switzerland left in need because of the coronavirus.

“These are challenging times for everyone, and nobody should be left behind,” Federer wrote on Instagram. “Mirka and I have personally decided to donate one million Swiss Francs for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland.

“Our contribution is just the start. We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need.”

The other leg of the big three of men’s tennis, Rafael Nadal, announced Thursday that he is teaming with two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol, a fellow Spaniard, to raise money for the Red Cross in Spain. The two have launched the #NuestraMejorVictoria (Our Best Victory) campaign to support the Red Cross’ goal of raising nearly $10 million.

“These are sad times, being at home all day. The news is not very encouraging,” Nadal said. “There is nothing we can do other than be positive, strong and united in the fight to beat the virus.”

The ATP and WTA tours have suspended play until at least June 7. The French Open, which Nadal has won a dozen times, was scheduled to begin May 24 and has been postponed until late September. Officials at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club will meet next week to consider the options for Wimbledon, which is slated for June 29-July 12.

As of Saturday morning, 28,822 people globally have died from the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 618,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Spain has been among the hardest-hit countries, with more than 72,000 cases – fourth in the world behind the United States, Italy and China.

—Field Level Media