Roger Federer has stepped up along with several other big names from tennis to assist a COVID-19 relief campaign in Pakistan.
Initiated by Pakistani tennis pro Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi in conjunction with Rizq Foundation, the campaign is called 'Stars against Hunger'. It will auction memorabilia collected from stars such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to provide food for Pakistani citizens left in a precarious state due to the coronavirus-enforced lock-down.
Qureshi aims to raise Rs. 35 million through the project, and distribute 10,000 ration bags to those in need.
Roger Federer donates shirts, shoes
Qureshi revealed to Geo.tv that the Swiss maestro had donated a pair of shirts and shoes that he had worn in tournament play. The shirt was worn by the 20-time Grand Slam winner during his 2016 Wimbledon semifinal against Milos Raonic, which in five grueling sets by the score 6-3, 6-7, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
The pair of shoes the Swiss legend has donated is from the 2011 Cincinnati Masters. Federer played that tournament as the defending champion but lost in the quarterfinals to Tomas Berdych.
Spanish legend Rafael Nadal has also donated a shirt featuring his academy logo, while World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has given the T-shirt he wore during the 2011 Australian Open final. Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 in that match to lift his second Slam trophy.
Sania Mirza joins in
Indian tennis star Sania Mirza is also doing her bit for Qureshi's cause, by contributing a signed racket. Several other top men's pros on the tour, including Grigor Dimitrov, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, have followed suit by donating rackets themselves.
Boxer Amir Khan has donated a pair of gloves, while Pakistan cricketers Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik have given shirts. Famous Pakistani pacers Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar will also be joining the cause by giving away signed cricket balls.
The need for relief efforts in Pakistan
Pakistan has reported more than 34,000 coronavirus cases so far, and has suffered 737 deaths. The country has also been suffering heavily due to the national lock-down, with scores of daily wage laborers unable to gather two square meals a day.
Roger Federer and other tennis stars have been very active during this pandemic - either personally or through their foundations - in helping out various regions across the world. The Roger Federer Foundation pledged $1 million to provide meals to the poor in Africa, while the Rafa Nadal Foundation donated tablets to students affected by the lock-down. Djokovic, meanwhile, joined the All In Challenge to help combat hunger in the US.
In addition, Roger Federer was recently in the news for a heartfelt tribute to a frontline nursing staff in New York. Christianne Calderon, who is a part of COVID-19 critical care at a New York hospital, was left overjoyed by Federer's touching gesture on Mother's Day.
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have also been at the forefront of the creation of a special relief fund for lower-ranked players on the tour. But that initiative has run into controversy, with Dominic Thiem and a few others voicing their opposition to the top players being forced to contribute to the fund.