“The devastation is far worse than what the media can possibly describe,” said Cagla Buyukakcay, Turkey’s trailblazing first WTA singles champion.
Tennis’ seven major entities—the ITF, ATP and WTA, and the four Grand Slams—announced this week they are rallying together to support humanitarian aid and earthquake relief in Turkey and Syria.
After a catastrophic 7.8 earthquake and its aftershocks rocked the region last week, the death toll has crossed a staggering 41,000 according to the World Health Organization. As rescue and recovery efforts continue, more than 17 million people have also been left living in freezing winter conditions and in urgent need of blankets, shelter, food and clean water.
“Tennis Plays For Love”, a fundraising campaign benefiting Global Giving’s Turkey and Syria Earthquake Relief Fund, kicked off on February 14 with a joint donation by “T-7” group.
It’s aid that could not come soon enough for the millions affected—but it’s only scratching the surface of the vast need, according to Turkey’s top tennis players.
World No. 196 Ipek Oz, WTA singles champion Cagla Buyukakcay and retired trailblazer Ipek Senoglu have taken their pleas to social media in an effort to rally the international tennis community in the days following the earthquakes.
“Ten cities, including my hometown, have been destroyed beyond recognition by earthquakes,” Buyukakcay shared on Instagram. “We are deeply devastated.”
“While we are grateful for the support received so far from the international community, it is worth underlining that the devastation is far worse than what the media can possibly describe,” she added. “More help is desperately needed to save lives and provide hope to the survivors.
“Wonderful responses by the world of tennis to the war in Ukraine or the fires in Australia have made us proud to be a part of such a sensible community. Please assist Turkey [and] Syria in saving lives and recovering from its dire situation.”
Buyakakcay, the WTA Tour’s lone Turkish singles champion after her 2016 victory in Istanbul, also put her signature title-winning Adidas kit up for auction to raise funds.
Senoglu, who made history in 2004 as the first Turkish player to compete in the qualifying rounds of a Grand Slam, is also set to auction her own Wimbledon racquet. On Monday, she took to social media to slam tennis leadership for their slow response.
“Dear @WTA and @ATPTour, you guys have failed!” Senoglou wrote, in a now-deleted tweet. “Even @NFL there’s been more support and mention of the earthquakes in Turkey. Where r u???” She later shared what appears to be a spokesperson’s response detailing the campaign’s impending announcement.
“Tennis Plays for Love” follows on from last year’s “Tennis Plays for Peace” fundraising campaign, which has raised more than US $3.5 million to date for those impacted by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
— Casper Ruud (@CasperRuud98) February 15, 2023