|UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia Novak Djokovic autographs children’s hands during his visit to Pcelica (‘Little Bee’) Nursery School in Smederevo, Serbia.|
By Malene Jensen
NEW YORK, USA, 21 December 2011 – World number-one ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic continues to serve up aces for children. The UNICEF National Ambassador to Serbia marked the holiday season by lending his voice and financial support for vulnerable children both in his native Serbia and around the world.
In December, the grand slam winner donated $100,000 to support early childhood education in Serbia. He also put his support behind the promotion of UNICEF Serbia’s card and gift campaign to help raise funds for some of the most vulnerable children around the world.
“I hope my donation and support will help make a difference in the lives of young children throughout Serbia, especially those who have fewer opportunities to reach their full potential,” said Mr. Djokovic. “Building a solid foundation in the early years of a child’s life will not only help him or her reach their full potential but will also result in better societies as a whole.”
Focus on early childhood education
Since becoming a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia in August, the tennis star has continued to champion the cause of child rights – speaking out for some of the most vulnerable children in Serbia. He has paid special attention to increasing awareness of the need to improve education for pre-school aged children.
In September, Mr. Djokovic visited a kindergarten in Smederevo, near Belgrade, attended by the most marginalized groups in Serbia, including children with disabilities and those living in Roma settlements.
|UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia Novak Djokovic signs tennis balls at Pcelica (‘Little Bee’) Nursery School in Smederevo, Serbia.|
‘All children have rights’
Mr. Djokovic began playing tennis at age four and made his professional debut at 16, continuing on to win several Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 and 2011 Australian Open championships and the 2011 Wimbledon championship. In December, having won three of the four Grand Slam titles, Mr. Djokovic was named the men’s 2011 International Tennis Federation World Champion.
Off the court, Mr. Djokovic donates his time and efforts to raise funds and awareness for some of the world’s most vulnerable children.
“I want to help children in Serbia and around the world so they can realize their dreams,” he said. “All children have rights and those rights must be protected.”
UNICEF has been working in Serbia for more than 60 years to protect and promote children’s rights. In its joint efforts with the government and non-governmental partners,
UNICEF aims to reach the country’s most marginalized children and adolescents – including children from the poorest families, children with disabilities and those who are from Roma communities.
And Mr. Djokovic is helping to do just that.
"UNICEF appreciates Novak's commitment to children's rights, and welcomes his engagement on early development for the most vulnerable children, which is so critical in Serbia," said Judita Reichenberg, UNICEF Representative in Serbia.