Serena Williams won her first big tennis championship title in three years and is using her prize money to pay it forward.
After taking the top spot at Sunday’s ASB Classic Match in Auckland, New Zealand, the tennis icon announced her decision to donate her winnings from the competition to Australian wildfire relief efforts. Williams’s title win—the first since the birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in 2017—against American player Jessica Pegula resulted in a cash prize equivalent to $43,000.
“I’ve been playing Australia for over 20 years and it’s been really hard for me to watch all the news and everything that’s been happening in Australia with all the fires and over a billion animals and people who have lost their homes,” said Williams. “So I decided that I would donate all my prize money for a great cause.”
Since the start of the tragic wildfires in September, the natural disaster has claimed 25 human lives and depleted almost half a billion mammals, reptiles, and birds.
Williams is scheduled to return to Australia next week for the start of the Australian Open, where she has previously won seven of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles. According to CNN, Australian Open organizers are planning to proceed with the competition even with the ongoing wildfires.
“In the unlikely case of extreme smoke conditions, the roofs will be closed on the 3 stadium courts and play will continue in their air-conditioned, air-filtered environment,” stated the official Australian Open Twitter account.
Williams joins a growing list of celebrities who have brought awareness to the ongoing Australian wildfires and donated money toward relief efforts. Leonardo DiCaprio, Kylie Jenner, Nicole Kidman, and Hilary Duff are all stars who have donated to the Australia Wildfire Fund, and even Queen Elizabeth II and members of the royal family have spoken out in support of Australia.
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