Her tale of growing up in war-torn Serbian streets to glory in the international tennis arena is inspirational. And now, Ana Ivanovic wants to ensure that children around the world realise their dream just as she did. (Also read: What scares Maria Sharapova)
Ivanovic, who is the UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia, recently met children, school principals and parents as part of a campaign called 'School Without Violence.' The world No. 5 showed her concern for welfare of Serbian children.
"I'll help as much as I can. I am committed to supporting the work of UNICEF to improve the lives of children," she said.
Ivanovic's commitment to the cause comes from her own personal battle against hardships. Growing up in Sebia in the 1990s was a daily struggle for children and Ivanovic was no different.
According to reports in the European media, the brunette beauty had to schedule her practice in the wee hours of the morning during Nato's 78-day bombardment of the city in the Kosovo crisis of 1999.Â Even in the chilling winters and despite the lack of proper facilities, a young Ivanovic was found perfecting her shots in an abandoned Olympic-size swimming pool.
"I remember the bombing in 1999 (by Nato, during the Kosovo War). That was something I'll never forget - the biggest shock of my life," she had said in an interview to The Guardian.
"My parents tried to keep it away from us, they wouldn't talk about it or put the news on."
Tennis though, was always her calling and Ivanovic kept at it till success came knocking on her doors. "Looking back, I really don't know what attracted me to it, but I still have a video of my first-ever practice, when I was five. Watching it now, there was a little bit of talent there; I could hit the ball," she said. And it is this dream of recognizing talent and perfecting it that she now wants to share with young children of her country.