Have you heard of these guys? 5 tennis players we should all look up to.
Tennis has long been a sport that gives back—from our National Junior Tennis & Learning partners NYJTL and Norwalk Grassroots Tennis & Education, to the USTA Foundation as a whole—the organizers surrounding tennis have a long track record of making a difference. The sport’s greatest stars have also gotten in on the action too—the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education have both made amazing contributions—as has Serena Williams's long-time work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. There’s no doubt—the sport’s great athletes have made a positive impact.
We all know that the stars at the top of tennis give back (with each U.S. open singles champion receiving over $3.8 million in prize winnings, they easily have the means to do so) but what about some of the other athletes who may not be as well known?
Here’s the AD LOVE list of 5 tennis players we also look up to, and their impact on the world:
Leander Paes: If you’re not familiar with him, Leander Paes is an Indian tennis player, and arguably one of the best doubles and mixed doubles players of all time—having won a career Grand Slam in each major title. He does amazing work through his support of the Killing Fields to Tennis Courts movement, which puts courts in areas cleared of landmines planted by the former Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Paes's association with tennis in Cambodia started when the Tennis Federation of Cambodia invited him to a Killing Fields to Tennis Courts event. It was a natural fit, given that Paes’s father had fled the country just before the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime took over in the mid-1970s and murdered many of the country’s tennis players as they were considered to be “elite”.
John Isner: The holder of the world-record for longest tennis match, hosts the annual Ebix Charity Challenge to support the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The UNC Lineberger Cancer Center is one of the leading treatment facilities in the nation and is also where John's mother, Karen, was successfully treated with colon cancer. As Isner shared himself, "I'm excited to have the opportunity to support an organisation that has given so much to my family. UNC Lineberger continues to make remarkable strides in the fight against cancer”. Isner’s high-profile friend, Andy Roddick, has also come out to support the event.
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna: The double’s pair, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and Rohan Bopanna of India, have exemplified how tennis can help to overcome political adversity, promote peace and develop friendships with their movement—“Stop War Start Tennis”. In 2010, the pair made the US Open men’s doubles finals and reached a top 10 doubles ranking. The partners seized the spotlight opportunity to launch the campaign “Stop War Start Tennis” to promote peace through tennis. Since then, the campaign has become a fully-fledged non-profit organization, which also helps victims of landmines and other weapons of war in past and present conflict zones resume an active lifestyle.
Sloane Stephens: This up-and-coming star founded the Sloane Stephens Foundation in 2013 with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for youth, through exposure to tennis as a basis for life-long learning, and healthy lifestyle choices. The Foundation’s vision is to assist in developing a constructive future for young people by providing educational opportunities and encouraging healthy lifestyles, proper nutrition, and participation in physical fitness activities. The foundation accomplishes this by partnering with like-minded organizations. Through these alliances, The Sloane Stephens foundation exposes thousands of youth annually to a variety of opportunities that they may otherwise never experience. Programs that the Sloane Stephens Foundation supports include Compton Unified School District Junior Tennis Program, Fresno County Office of Education Junior Tennis Program, Soles4Souls, and Poverello House of Fresno, CA. The Foundation is also working with several organizations to create junior tennis programs in Broward County, Florida.
Looking to make an impact yourself? Our NYJTL X AD LOVE Draw for Love Challenge shirt is now available here. Designed by Conor, an eighth grader from the Bronx, 100% of profits from the shirt’s sales go to benefit NYJTL’s mission to develop the character of young people through tennis and education for a lifetime of success on and off the court.