Tennis Star Denis Shapovalov Started an Animal Rescue
“With ShapoShelter, we’re going to highlight the stories of these poor animals that can’t tell their own stories in the hopes of finding them new homes.”
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Monday marked the official start of Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament on the globe. The annual event is a showcase of the world’s best to swing a racket — one of which is 23-year-old Denis Shapovalov. But Canada’s rising star has his eyes set beyond collecting trophies. In April, Shapovalov, along with fellow tennis pros Cornelius Haarmann and Nadia Abdala, founded ShapoShelter, an initiative to help shelter pets find their forever homes.
“Over the years, I’ve heard so many cruel stories about certain animals that were so helpless,” Shapovalov shared on Twitter. A cat and dog dad himself, Shapovalov has long advocated for animal welfare. To wit: last year, the athlete visited Save a Greek Stray, an Athens-based non-profit organization that rescues and rehomes the city’s strays. “Animals have always had a special place in my heart, and even with everything they have been through, each dog [in Athens] was super loving and so happy,” Shapovalov said of the experience.
While ShapoShelter is not a shelter itself, the nonprofit acts as a platform to spotlight animals in need across the U.S. and Mexico. It does this by partnering with existing rescue organizations — including the Humane Society of Manatee County, the Humane Society of Greater Miami, and Mexico City’s Adopta Un Amigo Para Siempre — to amplify their voices and help their adoptable pets reach wider audiences.
And it’s already working. Not only does Shapovalov have almost 600k Instagram followers, his ShapoShelter announcement on Twitter boasts a quarter of a million views, and counting. “With ShapoShelter, we’re going to highlight the stories of these poor animals that can’t tell their own stories in the hopes of finding them new homes.”
So while our pets have had a historically tumultuous yet passionate relationship with tennis balls, at least now we can all agree that one person who has made a career out of playing with them is a net positive for petkind.
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Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.