NEW YORK (December 21, 2011) — World number one ranked tennis player and UNICEF National Ambassador to Serbia, Novak Djokovic, is marking the holiday season by lending his voice and financial support for vulnerable children in Serbia—and 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 Djokovic, who made a $100,000 donation in December to support early childhood education in Serbia. "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."
Since becoming a UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia in August, the tennis star has provided strong support to the children's agency — speaking out for some of the most vulnerable children in Serbia. In September, he 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. The tennis star is also promoting UNICEF Serbia's card and gift campaign to help raise funds for some of the most vulnerable children around the world.
"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 Area Representative.
Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four and made his pro-debut at 16 — on to win several Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 and 2011 Australian Open championships and the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. In December, Djokovic was named the men's 2011 International Tennis Federation world champion, having won three of the four Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic is including the most vulnerable children in his future.
"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 saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian aid organization in the world. Working in more than 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health and immunizations, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency and disaster relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress: the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. But still, 21,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood.