Charity match-up raises more than $65,000 for Kaikoura rebuild
The stars played before a sold-out crowd at ASB Tennis Arena this afternoon. ASB created the friendly match, on the eve of the ASB Classic opening, to raise money for the South Island town, damaged by the November earthquakes. More than 2500 tickets were sold and ASB is donating proceeds to the Kaikoura District Council.
The afternoon opened with friendly doubles play that saw Serena and Venus Williams paired with Kiwis Marina Eracovic and 18-year-old Jade Lewis.
Tennis fans then welcomed Julian and Ardie Savea on-court for an older siblings (Venus and Julian) vs younger siblings (Serena and Ardie) match-up, before swapping to sisters vs brothers. Caroline Wozniacki later made a surprise arrival on court to join the Savea duo.
Speaking after the match-up, Venus Williams said she was glad to support a great cause, and was complimentary of her All Black opponents.
“The guys’ athleticism really shone through,” Williams said. “It was a great show. I couldn’t stop laughing myself.”
The Savea brothers said they were nervous wrecks waiting to take the court.
Ardie Savea, who said his tennis career was just three-days old, said his nerves were greater than they were before an All Black test match.
Asked how they thought All Black coach Steve Hansen would have rated their performance, they said he would have been happy it was for a good cause.
Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray said the charity match was a fantastic result for Kaikoura.
Although the recovery was still in its early stages, he believed the money raised could go a long way to helping restore some of Kaikoura’s sports infrastructure damaged in the quake.
Gray thanked ASB and tennis fans across the country for their support and the players for their time.
“To have the Williams sisters in Auckland, and prepared to give their time for this cause, with the Savea brothers, is a huge honour.”
ASB head of community, sponsorship and events Mark Graham said it was wonderful how both tennis fans and the players supported the event and made it a fun afternoon.
“We can’t think of a better way to kick-off an exceptional two weeks of tennis in Auckland,” Mr Graham says.