Even as schools remain closed, WTA stars are still teaching students valuable life lessons through an organization dedicated to empowering kids.
Founded by retired American player Peanut Harper, Harper for Kids is a nonprofit organization that brings character education skills to students across California, based on the philosophy of famed UCLA coach John Wooden and his “Pyramid of Success”.
As a part of WTA Charities’ WTA 4 Love initiative, the stars of women’s tennis have been stepping up to share their wisdom via Zoom, a popular video chatting program - much to the delight of teachers and students.
“It brings a smile to my face, just seeing them in action talking to the kids,” said Peanut Harper, a former WTA Top 20 player. “Like, you don’t see that person on the court, and you wish more people could see them in this light.
“It’s not about, “So how was your match today?” It goes a little deeper. It’s hearing them answer questions like, “Have you ever failed?” and “How do you motivate yourself to become a better person?” A lot of more important questions that we get to hear them answer than what’s their tennis score.
“They’re a treasure trove of wisdom. Just to have the kids be able to take away even one thing from it is super valuable.”
Check out some highlights from recent Zoom calls with WTA stars - current and retired - and learn what the Pyramid of Success means to Victoria Azarenka, Madison Keys, Mary Pierce and more.
Inspiring words from awesome role model & tennis champion @cicibellis. @chapmanhillspr1 teacher Ms. Bri Harrigan asked CiCi which character traits from Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success has helped her be successful on her path to being a professional athlete.#charactereducation pic.twitter.com/3FJq61hBLH— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) April 15, 2020
“I think the traits on the Pyramid that have given me the most success are Hard Work, Enthusiasm and Determination,” said CiCi Bellis. “I think if you have all those three things every day, you can do whatever you want in the world. Especially if you have good people around you, anything is possible.”
Awesome definition of Success @Wimbledon & @usopen doubles champion @WTA @queen_v21! Thanks for sharing your life lessons w/Justice St Principal Hernandez & 4th grade teacher Ali Garcia for their students @zoom_us! Congrats on the great work with your nonprofit Serving Up Hope! pic.twitter.com/RnAV6rf0LL— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) April 26, 2020
“Success to me means trying to be the best that I can be, making a positive difference in the world, reaching my goals and continuously learning," said Vania King.
"What do you feel makes a successful leader?" @USTA Coach, Fed Cup Captain & former top 10 @WTA tennis champion Kathy Rinaldi is the perfect person and example of a great leader to answer this question!— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) April 18, 2020
Thank you Kathy, Ann Austin & @MissMoeTeaches, all inspiring role models! pic.twitter.com/Avv43Tt1p9
“I define success as being your very best each and every day no matter what it is that you choose, whether it’s being a student, or an athlete . . . most importantly in this world, to be the very best person you can be every day,” said US Fed Cup captain Kathy Rinaldi.
“It’s refreshing to see young students learning [about character traits that instill greatness] at a young age because those are the qualities that you want to keep in your life and live by. Dream big, write it down and go for it!”
Tennis legend and Olympic champion Zina Garrison on Success, priceless words of wisdom. Thank you Zina for doing the @zoom_us presentation with us for Fremont Elementary students! pic.twitter.com/dLodOllqv9— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) May 15, 2020
“Success has always been about trying to be the best that you can possibly be. I literally heard that every day in my house,” said Zina Garrison.
“My mom always said that it didn’t matter if you were an attorney, a housekeeper, a tennis player, whatever it is...that was always in my mind to do everything I could possibly do, be the best that I could possibly be, but I always had to put in the effort."
“Success is you give your 100%, your focus, your determination, your self-control, your discipline into your craft,” said former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka. “I think that is success. The result of it is something that you can't control and it requires a lot of circumstances to fall in place to be successful.”
"I always strive to be my Personal Best"-@_MaryPierce, @rolandgarros & @AustralianOpen champion, @WTA former #3 in the world, Olympian, @TennisHalloFame.— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) May 21, 2020
"The 2 most important things I can control to help me be successful is my effort & my attitude." #pyramidofsuccess #rolemodel pic.twitter.com/7hLP6DAmOi
“Success, #1 is happiness...being happy, being at peace in your heart, doing what you love to do, what makes you happy, what you’re excited about every day,” said French champion Mary Pierce. “Ultimately just being the best that you can be.
“There are two things that you have total control of that can help you be successful, to always give your best effort and have a good attitude."
THANK YOU @Madison_Keys for being such a great role model & spreading your message of kindness in the world #KindnessWinsDay!— Harper for Kids (@HarperforKids) May 23, 2020
Madison: “I just try to be kind to anyone I come across and to make sure at the end of every day, I did everything I could to be my kindness, best self." pic.twitter.com/l5LMvBJZiN
“The thing that I always think about as far as being a role model is constantly thinking whoever looks up to me, I want to make them proud,” said Madison Keys, speaking to students on World Kindness Day.
“I want to put out my absolute best every day no matter what that is...and just try to be kind to anyone I come across and to make sure at the end of every day, I did everything I could to be my kindness, best self.”
Follow the WTA 4 Love campaign to learn more about how the tennis community is coming together during the COVID-19 pandemic.