The U.S. Open will step up for Ukraine during the reinstated “Fan Week,’’ with a star-laden tennis exhibition Wednesday night at the USTA National Tennis Center.
The USTA has set up “Tennis Plays for Peace,’’ with its signature event to be held at Flushing Meadows on Aug. 24, which is Ukraine Independence Day.
A series of singles and mixed doubles matches will be staged, highlighted by Rafael Nadal, along with teenage sensations Carlos Alcaraz and Coco Gauff.
Also participating will be lefty Leylah Fernandez, last year’s surprise Open finalist; John McEnroe; Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who took the WTA tour by storm earlier this year with a 37-match winning streak; rising American standout Taylor Fritz; young Canadian stud Felix Auger-Aliassime; former Open champion Victoria Azarenka; Italy’s serving menace, Matteo Berrettini; and American top-10 standout Jessica Pegula.
Tennis legend Serena Williams will not participate, as she is unable to get out of prior commitments leading up to her final U.S. Open. The matches will be telecast on ESPN+, hosted by Patrick McEnroe.
Tickets for the two-hour tennis festival are priced at $25 and $50. Globalgiving, which has a Ukraine crisis relief fund, will receive 100 percent of the proceeds. The USTA hopes to raise at least $2 million for Ukraine over the next three weeks.
Wimbledon got political over the Russian invasion of Ukraine when it banned Russians from participating, including 2021 Open champion Daniil Medvedev. It was a controversial move that sparked the WTA and ATP to eliminate awarding tour points for the 2022 Wimbledon.
Russians will be permitted to compete at the U.S. Open, but Serbian Novak Djokovic, will not be allowed. A federal law prohibits unvaccinated individuals who aren’t American citizens from entering the country, and Djokovic is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Ukraine fundraiser is a keystone event of “U.S. Open Fan Week,” which is back after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
“Fan Week’’ will be highlighted by the qualifying tournament and Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Saturday. The qualifier event was held without fans the past two years. The main draw will being next Monday with no policy on vaccinations.
The Kids’ Day will not contain the traditional pageantry of a stage show at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Instead, events will be sprinkled across the grounds.
Williams, who said in an interview with Vogue that she will retire from tennis after the Open, will not participate in Kids’ Day. Williams lost in the first round of the last U.S. Open tuneup in Cincinnati and blew off her post-match press conference.