Beautiful Tennis Sensation Is Also a Philanthropist
By Jane Morse
Search the Internet and you will find hundreds of photos of the beautiful Ana Ivanovic. But it takes a little more digging to discover that this 20-year-old tennis superstar from Serbia is a philanthropist as well.
In 2007 Ivanovic accepted the post of national ambassador for UNICEF to her homeland. In this post, she serves as an advocate for children's rights, especially in education and child protection.
One of her first acts as UNICEF ambassador was to fund the School without Violence Program in three additional schools in Serbia. Launched by UNICEF in 2003, the program educates children, teachers, parents and the broader community in Serbia about the problem of intolerance, violence and harassment in schools. UNICEF, in partnership with various departments in the Serbian government, is working to implement this novel program in more than 50 schools throughout the country.
In announcing her financial donation, Ivanovic said, "I will give my contribution and hope that it will add up to the positive changes that are occurring for children in Serbia."
This talented athlete, now the sixth-ranked female player in the world, first picked up a tennis racket at the age of 5 after watching the game on television. Inspired by Monica Seles of Yugoslavia, who then held the world's Number 1 position in tennis, Ivanovic started out practicing in a swimming pool.
"It was a club where they had an Olympic pool, but it was very expensive to keep it warm during the winter and not many people were using it," Ivanovic explained. "So they emptied the pool and put a carpet inside and placed two tennis courts in it. It was impossible to play cross court because you were so close to the wall, and we had to keep playing down the lines."
Born the year that Slobodan Milosevic came to power and began Serbia's descent into pariah status, Ivanovic now provides a shining example of professional excellence and dedicated service to young Serbs. For this reason, she was nominated for the U.S. Secretary of State's 2008 Women of Courage Award. The award, inaugurated in 2007, is the result of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's desire to recognize exceptional women around the globe.
Source: U.S. Department of State
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