World number one tennis star Novak Djokovic is now set to become a champion for underprivileged children around the world following the news he has been made a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. The 28-year-old, himself a father to 10-month-old son Stefan, was officially appointed at an event at UNICEF headquarters in New York, where he was congratulated by deputy executive director Yoka Brandt.
Novak has worked closely alongside UNICEF since 2011 when he was appointed a UNICEF Serbia Ambassador.
"In recognition of his deep commitment to children, UNICEF is excited to welcome Novak to our global Goodwill Ambassador family," Ms Brandt said as she presented Novak with the organisation's pin. "I'm sure together we will reach the most vulnerable children with early childhood development. And with Novak's winning ways, we will give every child, everywhere, not just a fair start, but the best start and pave the way for a better future for all."
Novak then addressed the conference. "As somebody that was very fortunate in life to pursue his dreams and to realise his dreams, I share the same philosophy and I share the same mission on making sure that every child, not just in Serbia but worldwide, has the opportunity to dream and has a good start in their life, because education is the fundamental basis for everything that is expected of them in their later adult life."
Novak has already made a positive impact on the lives of many children, not only as a strong role model but also as an advocate for their rights. As a UNICEF Serbia ambassador, he has visited schools and pre-school to witness the importance of learning at an early age. And through his Novak Djokovic Foundation he has helped to create more flexible, high-quality and inclusive pre-school education systems for some of Serbia's most vulnerable children.
At the conference – during which it was announced that the Novak Djokovic Foundation is partnering with the World Bank to promote early childhood development – Novak offered his best advice to children.
"It's about dreaming first and really believing in your dreams," he said. "I think every child should be encouraged to dream and should be given an opportunity to dream.
"Unfortunately, in my country and in many disadvantaged rural areas around the world, children live in such circumstances and they are discouraged to dream and unfortunately also plagued by fear and some social barriers to pursue their dreams. But I think that would be the first and most important advice - to dream and to really be brave enough and to have the courage to really live in your imagination and to visualize yourself of becoming somebody or something that you really want to become."
Novak joins a host of accomplished and dedicated UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, both past and present, including Audrey Hepburn, David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Shakira, Serena Williams, Katy Perry and Sir Roger Moore.