Tennis world number one Novak Djokovic pledged one million euros ($1.10 million) to help buy ventilators and other medical equipment in his native Serbia yesterday, joining a list of other athletes in the fight against coronavirus.
The virus, which emerged in China late last year, has brought sporting events around the world to a halt and killed more than 24,000 people. Rafa Nadal had called on Spanish athletes to help raise 11 million euros ($12.13 million) to help fight the pandemic while Roger Federer contributed one million Swiss Francs ($1.04 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.
“I wish to express my gratitude to all the medical staff across the world and in my native Serbia for helping everyone infected by the coronavirus,” Djokovic told Serbian media over a video conference from Marbella, Spain.
“Unfortunately, more and more people are getting infected every day. My wife Jelena and I are putting together a plan how to best donate our resources to people in need. Our donation is one million euros for the purchase of ventilators and other medical equipment.”
Serbia has reported 457 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seven deaths. Djokovic was in imperious form before the pandemic brought the tennis season to a halt with both the men’s ATP Tour and the WTA Tour, which runs women’s competitions, suspended till June 7.
The 32-year-old Serb has won 18 straight matches this season, lifting the ATP Cup with Serbia before a record-extending eighth Australian Open title in Melbourne and then a fifth title at the Dubai Tennis Championships.
With countries going into lengthy lockdowns to arrest the spread of the virus, Djokovic said he had enjoyed spending an extended amount of time with his family. “The situation is very unpredictable. There is a lot of fear and panic and I understand that completely because there is so much suffering. My family and I are trying to stay as positive and high-spirited as possible in battling this impostor of a virus,” he said.
Rescheduling Wimbledon would be no easy task,
says Jamie Murray
Britain’s Jamie Murray says organisers might find it difficult to reschedule Wimbledon for later in the season if the Grand Slam is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. A decision regarding the June 29-July 12 grasscourt event will be made next week but organisers have already ruled out staging the tournament without spectators.
“I don’t know how long they could push it back,” Murray, a two-time Wimbledon mixed doubles champion, told BBC Scotland’s The Nine. “For them, optics don’t necessarily look great, I guess, if there’s sporting events all over the world getting cancelled and they’re trying to crack on with things.”
The Australian Open, year’s first Grand Slam, was completed before the virus outbreak brought global sport to a standstill, including the suspension of ATP and WTA Tours. Organisers of the French Open have already made the decision to move the claycourt tournament to Sept 20-Oct 4 from its May start. “There’s a lot of other stakeholders, a lot of other tournaments to consider,” said Murray.
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