BELGRADE, Serbia - As the 2013 season approaches, we catch up with the WTA's biggest stars about their off-seasons, and many of them have been taking part in charitable activities. Among them is Ana Ivanovic, who took time out in November to meet with pupils, parents and teachers in five primary schools in Belgrade for the School Without Violence program, the UNICEF campaign she fronts.
Together with pupils of the Filip Filipovic host school, as well as the primary schools of Mihajlo Petrovic, Svetislav Golubovic Mitraljeta, Miroslav Anticc and Vasa Carapicc, Ivanovic stimulated the work of a peer team. Together they defined the rules and discussed the importance of obeying and implementing rules in order to reduce violent behavior and promote the values of friendship, solidarity, honesty and understanding in the classroom. Ivanovic spoke about the importance of obeying rules in order to achieve results. She shared with them her own experience about the rules that she had to respect regarding regular training, nutrition and rest in order to be among the world's top tennis players.
"It is not easy to be an athlete," Ivanovic, a Grand Slam champion and former World No.1, told them. "There are really many rules we have to comply with in professional sports. It is not hard to me; I know why I conform to them because it is important to me to achieve what I believe in. It's the same with violence. If we believe that friendship is most important, that we can agree on everything, that each one of is of worth it, that there are other ways to prove ourselves instead of making fun of or harassing someone - it will not be difficult for us to obey the rules that promote non-violent behavior."
At the end of the meeting, Ivanovic called upon each individual, from pupils and parents to teachers and the society as a whole, to invest efforts in order to eliminate violence in schools.