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Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic named UNICEF Serbia Ambassador

By Priyanka Pruthi

NEW YORK, USA, 30 August 2011 – The world’s top-ranked tennis player, Novak Djokovic, is set to champion the cause of child rights. The tennis superstar was appointed as a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia yesterday at a ceremony in New York, where he’s competing in the US Open and vying for his third Grand Slam title of the year.

VIDEO: 29 August 2011 - UNICEF correspondent Priyanka Pruthi reports on world tennis champion Novak Djokovic's appointment as UNICEF Serbia Ambassador in an event with acting Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah at the US Open site in New York.  Watch in RealPlayer


At the ceremony, UNICEF acting Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said Mr. Djokovic was “a natural fit” for the organization.

“You all know Novak Djokovic as a world tennis champion,” she said. “He is also a champion for children, passionate about his work in promoting the rights and best interests of children in Serbia. Novak’s unwavering commitment to child rights will contribute to creating a world fit for children.”

As a UNICEF Ambassador, Mr. Djokovic will volunteer his time and lend his voice to issues that affect young Serbian children. He will begin by increasing awareness of the need to improve education for children of pre-school age.

© UNICEF 2011/Cortellesi
Tennis star Novak Djokovic will serve as UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia. The official appointment took place during the US Open in New York.

“I am very honoured to partner with UNICEF to help increase awareness for the importance of early childhood education,” he said. “I look forward to working with UNICEF to help make a difference in the lives of young children throughout Serbia, particularly those who have fewer opportunities to learn and develop to their full potential.”

'Role model for children’

Ms. Salah echoed the importance of early education for children in Serbia and around the world.

“In addition to missing a key window of opportunity for learning and future achievement, being out of pre-school means children have fewer chances to play and socialize with peers or to learn sports,” she said. “But we know with Novak’s help, UNICEF can help change this.”

Addressing Mr. Djokovic, she added: Your passion and commitment inspire us all. We will accomplish so much together, and we are privileged to have you as our ambassador. You are a role model to so many Serbian youth.”

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.

‘Anything is possible’

Mr. Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four and made his professional debut at 16. Since then, he has won three Grand Slam singles titles: the 2008 and 2011 Australian Open championships and the 2011 Wimbledon championship. In the process, he became the first player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title.

“I want to help Serbian children realize their dreams.” Mr. Djokovic said yesterday. “I want to help them understand that they have rights and that those rights should be protected. I want them to believe that anything is possible.”



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