- 1 of 6
NASHVILLE, TN, USA - Bethanie Mattek-Sands has a special place in her heart for Nashville, Tennessee. A huge country music fan, Mattek-Sands knows the city is where the music of love and tears, family and friends all started. But the city was also the start of something else - Mattek-Sands' life as a tennis player. She remembers her whole family making the trip with her from Wisconsin to watch her in her first USTA 12 and under event.
Now, Mattek-Sands has held a career-high No.37 ranking and has put the USA on her shoulders as she led the country to the Fed Cup final last November. She isn't stopping there either. Not forgetting where she came from, Mattek-Sands has pledged 5% of her prize money from Roland Garros through the US Open to the Nashville flood relief efforts through the organization Hands on Nashville.
In April, record rains in the Mid-South led to disastrous flooding in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi, leaving at least 29 dead. The Cumberland River, slicing through Nashville, crested at a 70-year high - 12 feet above flood stage.
On top of all the damage, a large majority of the homeowners did not have flood insurance, so Mattek-Sands is doing what she can to help and raise awareness. Donating prize winnings will lead to a generous donation, already more than $2,000 from her Roland Garros prize winnings alone.
Mattek-Sands' passion for the USA and tennis has been the common bond to help make a difference in the lives of the families affected by the Nashville flooding: "Nashville is where it all started for me in my tennis career," she said. "The game of tennis has given me so much and I am grateful I have the opportunity to help those in need. I really hope I can make a difference in Nashville to those that have suffered in the last few months."
In addition to the financial donation Mattek-Sands has pledged, she also plans on visiting Nashville in July and donating time to a hands-on Nashville project.