MELBOURNE, Australia — International and Australian sports stars began pitching in on the weekend to help relief efforts in flood-ravaged Queensland state.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will headline a special sold-out "Rally for Relief" exhibition event at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne on Sunday, a day before the start of the Australian Open.
The floodwaters that swamped entire neighborhoods in Brisbane, the state capital, left behind a thick layer of putrid sludge and affected more than 30,000 homes. Weeks of rain and flooding across Australia's northeast have left 26 people dead and 20 more are missing.
On Saturday, Federer said at an Australian Open media conference that he watched details of the flooding on television while playing at a tournament in Qatar.
"When I saw it hit the city of Rockhampton, I right away thought of Rod Laver," Federer said of Laver's birthplace.
"I tried to reach out to him and see if he wanted to do anything, if he needed my help. Once I came down to Australia, I spoke to him ... I said 'this time we have more than 24 hours' notice, so we'll be able to generate more money, especially in a country where we're playing right at the moment.'."
"It's very appropriate and a must for us to do something as a tennis family really. I'm really happy we've been able to do it again."
Last year, many top players including Federer and Nadal held a similar charity exhibition for victims of the Haiti earthquake.