It isn’t every day that we get to see two international tennis greats play on South African soil.
But the crowd of 51945 fans at Cape Town Stadium on Friday were lucky enough to witness history in action, when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal went head-to-head in The Match in Africa, raising USD 3.5 million (approximately R54.6 million) for the charitable Roger Federer Foundation.
The Match in Africa was the sixth edition of this event, but the first to take place on African soil. And the crowd of more than 51945 people set a new world record for the largest attendance at a tennis match.
The atmosphere in the capacity stands was electric as Bill Gates and Trevor Noah joined the two champions for a curtain-raising doubles match, with Federer and Gates facing off against Nadal and Noah.
Fans were ecstatic to see Noah back on home soil as both he and Gates convincingly proved that there’s more to them than their less sporty day jobs and that they were fully committed to a good cause.
The Match in Africa also showcased a host of local talent in between the matches, which kept excitement high, including the legendary Ndlovu Youth Choir and the energetic Zip Zap Circus – a Cape Town-based social circus that was founded to inspire young people and to help build a new culture of peaceful coexistence in South Africa.
Federer and Nadal did not disappoint, launching into an exciting rally of world-class tennis that had spectators on the edges of their seats. After a hard-fought three Federer emerged as the winner of this round. But the players matched each other lobby for lobby and ace for ace throughout. The thundering contest was tense to the last minute.
The event raised a total of USD 3.5 million (approximately R54.6 million). And all the net proceeds generated by The Match in Africa will be donated to the Roger Federer Foundation, to support education in rural South Africa. The Roger Federer Foundation has been supporting education programmes for over 16 years and has invested extensively in educational initiatives throughout Africa.
Following the match, Federer said, “What an unforgettable night. We raised more than three-and-a-half million US dollars for vulnerable children in the region, achieved a world record with more than 51945 spectators at a tennis match and had so much fun on the court.
“Thanks, Rafa for a great match, to Bill and Trevor for stepping out of their comfort zones, and most of all, thank you, South Africa, and thank you Cape Town, for all your overwhelming support and for making a difference to those who need it most.”