Ash Barty was flying home across Australia following the Fed Cup final when she saw the early signs of devastation from the wildfires that are still raging in large parts of the vast island continent.
So the problem hasn’t just dawned on her, the highest-profile tennis player in Australia, like it might have for some players arriving for the season-opening events. But the scale and gravity of the situation is really hitting home. With Australia in the grip of its worst wildfire season in recorded history and with a human death toll of 24, the the top-ranked player is donating prize money she wins at the Brisbane International, her home tournament, to the Australian Red Cross for the recovery effort. The winner of the tournament, which starts Monday, will earn more than $250,000.
“It’s been really terrible, it really has. For me, this started two or three months ago,” Barty said of the damage caused by what Australians commonly call bush fires. “We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country.”
Actors, athletes, entertainers and everyday citizens have contributed millions of dollars in pledges to the relief effort, and organizers of sports events are setting up fundraising events. Australian Open organizers will hold a special charity event Jan. 15, five days before the season’s first major begins in Melbourne.
Lazio wins match
marred by racism
Ciro Immobile and Lazio started the new year as they ended 2019 as the forward scored twice to help his side to a ninth straight Serie A victory but the match was blighted by yet another incident of racism in Italian soccer.
Third-place Lazio fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 at 10-man Brescia in stoppage time Sunday and moved three points back of the top two, Juventus and Inter Milan.
Mario Balotelli had scored the opener but was twice the target of racist chanting by Lazio fans. On the second occasion, the match was halted for a few minutes and an announcement made at the stadium, while Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi gesticulated to the visiting fans to stop the chants.
Balotelli posted a video of his goal on Instagram after the match and wrote: “Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU!”
Immobile became the first player since Inter Milan’s Antonio Valentin Angelillo in 1959 to score 19 goals in his first 17 Italian league matches of the season.
• A Bulgarian man died in Thessaloniki, Greece, after being attacked by fans of Greek soccer club PAOK and hit by a car. Police said the 28-year-old victim and two Bulgarian friends were attacked by an estimated 15-20 PAOK fans, armed with clubs. The attack took place in the center of the northern Greek city.
Skiing: Clement Noel came from behind in Zagreb, Croatia, to win the first men’s World Cup slalom of 2020. Fourth after the opening leg, Noel edged first-run leader Ramon Zenhaeusern of Switzerland by 0.07 of a second for his first win of the season and fourth overall.
Hockey: Akil Thomas scored the winning goal in the final period and Canada rallied from two goals down to beat Russia 4-3 in the final of the world junior hockey championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Thomas backhanded the puck past goaltender Amir Miftakhov with 3:58 left for his only goal at the tournament. Canada lost 6-0 to Russia in their group-stage game.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Top-ranked-Ash-Barty-donating-Brisbane-winnings-14951691.php.