Opinion

Joël Bouzou
Peace and Sport President and Founder

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04/03/2016 par Joël Bouzou

Novak Djokovic, the Art of Good Timing

Novak Djokovic is a Champion for Peace. The Serbian tennis player joined Peace and Sport in April 2011 and, with conviction, commitment and humility, became part of a group of ambassadors that now proudly counts over 80 members. He is profoundly invested in our cause and our combat moves him. The world’s number 1 tennis player grew up in Belgrade. As a youngster, he and his family were obliged to flee his home region to escape NATO’s 80-day bombardment of the Serb city.

Novak Djokovic and his wife, Jelena, recently appeared on CNN International’s monthly programme “Open Court”.  They spoke about tennis. Normal. They spoke about their relationship. Understandable. But above all, they talked about their joint dedication to the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The player is not the only famous name in world sport to devote time and financial resources to humanitarian causes. But his way of doing so takes on a particular resonance.

Novak Djokovic explained on CNN International, “There are many great sportsmen who set very good examples in the eyes of the public: people who are conscious of their responsibilities towards young people throughout the world. But much remains to be done; many athletes are not yet aware of the broad reach of their voice. Through sport, I have learned that many things are possible. Athletes have the power to change the world, as Nelson Mandela said. This power can be used in a very positive way.”

And he was repeating this message whenever possible way before he was firmly installed at the top of the world tennis ladder. He created Novak Fund in 2007, a charitable organization which five years later was transformed into the Novak Djokovic Foundation. His initial priority was to help the Serb people recover from the war in ex-Yugoslavia. Today, his actions are directed towards childhood and education.

This initiative is not only admirable. With his wife Jelena, Novak Djokovic has brought it to the attention of people throughout the entire world by using the opportune moment when he dominates tennis and has made his mark as one of the most mediatized sportsmen of his generation. On CNN International, Jelena clarified, “Novak currently has the capacity and the voice to raise public awareness and the necessary funds.  We may not have this ability in the future.”

Athletes have the power to change the world. We know it. Novak Djokovic knows it. And this power doesn’t remain constant during all the stages of a career. In daring to express himself today, at the summit of his profession, the Serb can make a real difference. Tomorrow, it won’t be too late. It’s never too late. But his words, his engagement and his appeals will find a less audible echo. The player knows it better than anyone; it’s often a question of timing. On a tennis court. And even more so when it’s a question of fighting for peace.

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