Champion at Heart: Novak Djokovic, the New Andre Agassi of Tennis Charity

There are some tennis players who play to make their life better and then there are some who have stopped caring about money. The last class is of those who play for others, for the ones who are not so fortunate in life.

Reported by: Ashish Maggo
Last updated on Saturday, 02 August, 2014 16:14 IST
  • Total Shares
Novak Djokovic Andre Agassi
Big heart on the court, big heart off it! Novak Djokovic is known to dedicate part of his winnings for social causes.

© AFP

As tennis enthusiasts, we forget what it is like to be never able to hold a racquet in life like the rich, to never be able to enjoy watching the sport or to be deprived of the basic things in life.

There are some tennis players who play to make their life better and then there are some who have stopped caring about money. The last category is of those who play for others, for the ones who are not so fortunate in life.

One such example was the great Andre Agassi, who went on playing till 35 because he had a mission of helping disadvantaged children.

Now, consider you had just won 7,49,934 Pounds as part of prize money for winning a tournament in Italy, would you donate all of it for people affected by life-threatening floods in your country.

That is exactly what World No.1 Novak Djokovic did when he won the Italian Open in Rome. Not just this, the Novak Djokovic Foundation raised about USD 6,00,000 for reconstruction of schools destroyed by the floods in Serbia.

"I'm letting people down if I don't play," Agassi told his father-like trainer Gil at a time when reporters asked him when he would retire after every tournament.

While Agassi was humble in quietly setting up a school of the best standards in Vegas for underprivileged children from around the world, Djokovic has his own ways of raising money.

 Even when the Serbian No.1 lost to Britain's Andy Murray in the final of Wimbledon 2013, he went ahead with a dinner banquet that hosted the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Hudson, Boris Becker and Gerard Butler.  He did the same after losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2013 US Open.

The dinner raised 1.2 million Pounds after Wimbledon and USD 1.4 million after the US Open. Djokovic came back this year at Wimbledon to win his second title at the All-England Club. He is blessed!

As Agassi said in his autobiography, when you know you are playing for making a difference in others' lives, you don't play with pressure any more. There is a natural urge to excel, however, which is very positive.

Serbia have had a torturous history in the last 20 years because of the Yugoslav war. Djokovic has turned into an ambassador for Serbia to the world, educating them on how nice and kind Serbian people are and how they want to strive for peace and harmony.

Recently, the Novak Djokovic Foundation donated 50,000 Euros to a special school in Belgrade to help in constructing a playground that would be safe for children with special needs.

In other activities, the Foundation is building a Toy Library in a Serbian city called Kragujevac where children could come and play with toys for free.

Agassi's school in Vegas was so successful that it had Bill Clinton teaching history, Shaquille O' Neal being the substitute in physical education and Muhammad Ali wearing the visitors' badge. Once a kid walked up to Agassi to say thank you. His father had been murdered a year before he joined the school and the school had given him a new direction. Agassi hugged the kid and said it was he who needed to thank him.

These and others are the true champions fans always support with their soul, because they are real!

Story first published on: Saturday, 02 August 2014 14:04 IST

For the latest Sports news, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

Leave a comment