novak djokovic unicef
Yoka Brandt, (L) Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, and tennis star Novak Djokovic [R] sign an agreement at the UNICEF headquarters in New YorkReuters

Novak Djokovic has been appointed the goodwill ambassador of UNICEF, the United Nations (UN) confirmed.

The No. 1 men's singles tennis player in the world has been awarded the prestigious honour, just days prior to the start of the US Open 2015, where the Serbian is the top seed. Djokovic has been the Serbian ambassador for UNICEF previously, while he also started the Novak Djokovic foundation.

The nine-time grand slam winner has focussed on the various issues faced by vulnerable children around the world and their rehabilitation, which included promoting the children's rights, during his time as the UNICEF ambassador for Serbia.

"I am honoured to have become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and to continue to help defend and uphold children's rights and provide access to early childhood care and development for every girl and every boy," Djokovic stated in a statement released by UNICEF.

"The early years of life are crucial. When well nurtured and cared for in their earliest years, children are more likely to survive, to grow in a healthy way, to have fewer illnesses, to develop thinking, language, emotional and social skills and become productive and successful citizens of society," he added.

Some of Djokovic's other noteworthy works off-court include creating high quality pre-school education programmes in his own nation and improving the quality of the education programes. He also started several family outreach services.

The tennis star also made donations to the UN organisation during the 2014 floods in Balkans to help in the emergency relief services. He also supported the 'Schools for Asia' initiative in Bangladesh, China, and Philippines, as well as some other projects in Serbia that helped curb poverty.

"I am committed to helping UNICEF provide quality early care and development to children, especially those who are most vulnerable, to help them build a brighter future for themselves, their families, and their communities," Djokovic, 28, added.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has also been signed between the World Bank and the Novak Djokovic Foundation that aims at further boosting the child development programmes.

"Novak Djokovic is a true champion for children around the world," Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, said . "He has shown that a powerful voice and powerful actions can make a difference for children, especially when they are very young." Brandt added.

Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza was also announced as an UN Women goodwill ambassador for South Asia last year. She was roped in to support the 'He for She' campaign, which aims at spreading the awareness for gender equality.

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