The charitable side of tennis stars

The big-hitters of sport who plough much of their high earnings into community fundraising projects.

Pakistan’s number one tennis player Qureshi is using his name to spread peace to war-torn countries [AFP]
Pakistan’s number one tennis player Qureshi is using his name to spread peace to war-torn countries [AFP]
Top earners

Rafael Nadal – $11,057,935

Novak Djokovic – $9,274,947

David Ferrer – $3,944,953

These are the vast sums the world’s top players have earned in 2013, and that’s without taking into account winnings for this week’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals.

World number one Rafael Nadal has raked in more than $61 million in prize money over his 11-year career and in his current form shows no sign of having to eat baked beans anytime soon. 

As prize money has become more lucrative in tennis, charity has played an increasingly important role

At the O2 Arena this week I have been reminded almost daily of the different foundations and causes players support.

Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet all have foundations which assist the underprivileged. However, it isn’t just the top ranked players doing their bit.

Pakistan’s number one tennis player Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi is using his name to spread peace to war-torn countries.

Qureshi collected a cheque for $10,000 from the ATP World Tour to support his charity, Stop War Start Tennis, on Tuesday evening at the O2 Arena. 

“Tennis has taught me that sport can cross all barriers. It is above any cultural, religious or political differences,” Qureshi said on receiving the grant.

Kashmir dispute

“Stop War Start Tennis focuses on people affected by wars and gives them wheelchairs for tennis and tennis equipment. It gives them a reason to smile and make their lives better in some way if possible.”

With tensions simmering over Kashmir, Qureshi cannot ignore the territorial dispute between neighbouring nations Pakistan and India.

He has spent his career trying to unite warring factions. In November 2010, Qureshi was appointed a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations and as part of the Indo-Pak Express, with Indian Rohan Bopanna, showed that co-operation between the nations was possible.

“Robredo has done some amazing work through his annual wheelchair tennis event he organises in his hometown, Olot, near Barcelona.

Simon Higson , ATP Spokesman

 “I already have projects in Sri Lanka and Iraq under way and would like to do one in Pakistan,” Qureshi said when asked how he would spend the grant.

“It’s been an honour and privilege to be part of the ATP organisation. This grant doesn’t just signify money but boosts charities like mine and I’m sure a lot of other players are doing things to help people.”

The ATP is inundated with applications for Aces grants – an initiative set up in 2011 to support charities run by current and former players.

“We have given a total of 40 grants over the past three years to tournament players and alumni, resulting in a total of more than $400,000 since 2011,” ATP Spokesman Simon Higson told Al Jazeera English.

“These grants help to support our members’ charity efforts, as well as promoting and showcasing the great work they are doing in their local communities.”

Along with Qureshi, Spaniard Tommy Robredo – who upset Roger Federer at the U.S. Open this year – has gone above and beyond his call of duty.

“Robredo has done some amazing work through his annual wheelchair tennis event he organises in his hometown, Olot, near Barcelona,” Higson said.

“His event has become one of the highest ITF events for wheelchair tennis in Spain,” 

High demand

Soares is keen to help an initiative in  Belem Novo, Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil [AFP]

With such busy schedules – David Ferrer has played seven tournaments in seven weeks – it would be forgiveable for a tennis player just to focus on their day job. Yet many still look to help however they can.

Another player hoping to get a grant in 2014 is Brazilian Bruno Soares, who qualified with Alexander Peya for the doubles semi-finals on Friday.

“We are applying for a great friend of ours, Marcelo Ruschel, who is a photographer and worked for the Davis Cup for a very long time,” Soares told Al Jazeera English straight after his doubles victory over Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero.

“He has a special charity in Belem Novo, Porto Alegre.It is a poor neighbourhood and he not only uses tennis to bring people together but does a great job teaching English and various other things.

“For so many years he been taking money out his own pocket and it’s very tough to do because not every year you can get sponsors. So we are trying to help him.”

Unfortunately, the high demand for ATP Aces grants means Soares will have to wait, along with many of his fellow ATP professionals, to see if his cause is allocated funds.

Perhaps, I suggest, competition for grants is almost as tough as competing for trophies?

“It’s very tough. But whoever wins one is doing a good thing. It’s a fight for a very good reason.”

To find out more about the Aces initiative and what players are doing for charity visit:

Follow Joanna Tilley on Twitter: @JoannaTilley, or on her sports blog:



Source : Al Jazeera

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