Australia fires: Ashleigh Barty to donate Brisbane prize money to relief fund

Ashleigh Barty with a koala bear
Ashleigh Barty says she donated 30,000 Australian dollars (£15,960) to the RSPCA at the end of last year when the bushfires started

Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty will donate all of her prize money from the Brisbane International to the bushfire relief fund.

The event offers a pot of 1,434,900 Australian dollars (£763,300).

"There are a lot of bigger things going on in Australia right now that we need to take care of," Barty said.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova says she plans to donate an initial A$25,000 and asked men's world number two Novak Djokovic to match it.

Since September, fires in Australia have killed at least 24 people, with dozens more missing, and there is a widely reported estimate that 480 million animals have died.

More than 1,200 homes have been destroyed and millions of hectares of land scorched.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova revealed on Twitter she would be donating and asked 16-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic to also contribute

Barty, 23, is the top seed in the singles at the Brisbane International and will play alongside Dutch partner Kiki Bertens in the doubles.

"It's been really terrible, it really has. For me, this started two or three months ago," said Barty, who won her first Grand Slam at last year's French Open.

"We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country.

"The first I saw of it was actually flying home from the Fed Cup final [in November], from Perth back to the east coast of Australia, and we could see some of the smoke and some of the fires from the plane. So that really hit home with me."

Barty also says she donated A$30,000 (£15,960) to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at the end of last year.

"Obviously the worst of it is still out there at the moment," she added.

"Now it's not just wildlife [that] have lost lives and lost homes, but it's also affected Australians with their lives and their homes."

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, not known for hitting many aces, has also pledged her support in a novel way - by donating every time she shouts at her Australian coach, Darren Cahill, during a match.

Czech two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is the latest player to pledge to donate money for every ace hit during the Australian summer.

Australian number two Nick Kyrgios started the initiative when he said he would donate A$200 (£106) for each ace.

Tennis Australia committed a A$100 (£53) donation for every ace served at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

A total of 426 were hit on the opening two days, meaning A$42,600 (£22,660) has been raised for the Australian Red Cross.

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