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Tennis star Serena Williams becomes UNICEF's latest Goodwill Ambassador - with a focus on education

NEW YORK, 20 September 2011 - Tennis champion Serena Williams has picked a new partner—the world’s most vulnerable children.

VIDEO: 20 September 2011 - UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on the recent appointment of tennis ace Serena Williams as UNICEF's latest Goodwill Ambassador.  Watch in RealPlayer

 

At the 2nd Annual Social Good Summit UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake announced that Ms. Williams, one of the all-time greats of professional tennis, is joining UNICEF’s distinguished roster of International Goodwill Ambassadors.

“This cause means a lot to me because I really want to be able to have an opportunity to help UNICEF make the world aware of challenges that children face,” said Ms. Williams.

Mr. Lake expressed his excitement to have Ms Williams join the company of past and present UNICEF Ambassadors that includes Danny Kaye, Audrey Hepburn, Harry Belafonte, Mia Farrow, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Yuna Kim and Shakira.

“We want not only their names but their hearts, and talking with Serena a few months ago I was just so impressed by how big her heart is, and how devoted she is to the cause of children,” he said.

Education is crucial

Ms. Williams has already worked in an unofficial capacity with UNICEF, travelling to Ghana for that country’s biggest vaccination campaign. She joined a team of volunteer health workers who immunized children against deadly childhood diseases, distributed free mosquito bed nets.

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© UNICEF video
UNICEF's newest Goodwill Ambassador Serena Williams at 2nd Social Good Summit in New York with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

“I really fell in love with the kids there, I felt it was a great opportunity for me to be completely involved,” she explained. “It was an eye opening experience.”

As a Goodwill Ambassador she will support UNICEF’s mission to provide a quality education for the most vulnerable children through the Schools for Africa programme and the upcoming Schools for Asia initiatives.

She said education has always been of crucial importance to her and she described her own upbringing in which her parents encouraged her to excel academically, as well as on the tennis court.

A lasting impression

Part of the way she plans to support UNICEF is through her large social media following. She has more than two million followers on Twitter.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to promote UNICEF,” she said.

Ms. Williams, who has won 13 singles grand slam titles and two Olympic gold medals promised to bring the focus she displays on the court to her new role with UNICEF.

“I want to be the best at what I do and whether it’s tennis or anything else, I definitely want to stand out and make a lasting impression,” she stressed.


 

 

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