Victoria Azarenka among tennis stars to participate in Ukraine fundraiser before US Open
Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka is set to join Rafael Nadal, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek in a pre-US Open exhibition event as part of Tennis Plays for Peace, a program seeking to raise awareness and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
Significantly, the event has been pencilled in to take place on Ukraine Independence Day, August 24, at the Louis Armstrong Stadium in New York City.
Azarenka, unlike at Wimbledon, is allowed to compete in the US Open along with all other athletes from Belarus and Russia, although their national flags and emblems have been banned.
This is in accordance with the position of the Women's Tennis Association, Association of Tennis Professionals and International Tennis Federation.
Azarenka's preparations suffered a hit when she was forced to miss out on a key warm-up event in Canada following a delay in acquiring a visa.
Joining Azarenka, Spain’s Nadal, the United States' Gauff and Poland’s Świątek are American trio John McEnroe, Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula, Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, Canadian pair Leylah Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime and Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.
These athletes, plus others, will compete in a series of singles and mixed doubles matches.
Mike McNulty, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) President and Board chair, labelled the campaign "vitally important".
"The US Open is a stage that attracts millions of passionate fans, and it is incumbent upon us to help guide this passion to help those who desperately need it," McNulty said.
Tickets are priced at $25 (£20.70/€24.50) and $50 (£41.30/€49) and all of the proceeds will go to GlobalGiving, the non-profit organisation being used by Tennis Plays for Peace.
Kim Clijsters, James Blake, Andy Roddick and Lindsay Davenport to return for exhibition match during US Open Fan week
The money will be used to support communities in Ukraine impacted by the Russian invasion as well as the surrounding regions where millions of Ukrainian refugees have fled.
US Open "Fan Week" is scheduled to stretch from August 23 to August 28, with the Grand Slam proper being staged between August 29 and September 11.