Tennis superstar Serena Williams can add another title to her impressive resume. The United Nations Children’s Fund named the 13-time singles Grand Slam winner its international goodwill ambassador.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake made the announcement at the agency’s 2nd Annual Social Good Summit on Sep. 20 in New York. Lake noted at the ceremony that Williams, 30, is a philanthropist and champion of children, highlighting her previous work with the organization.
Williams joins a list of celebrity ambassadors who represented the organization, such as Audrey Hepburn, Harry Belafonte and David Beckham.
“We want not only their names but their hearts,” said Lake, “and talking with Serena a few months ago I was just so impressed by how big her heart is and how devoted she is to the cause of children.”
For a number of years, Williams has contributed her time and money to benefit underprivileged children. Her charity organization, the Serena Williams Foundation, focuses on education.
Williams has also worked alongside UNICEF, in an unofficial capacity, in the past. In 2006, she traveled to Ghana to support a team of health volunteers who immunized children against deadly childhood diseases and distributed free mosquito bed nets to fight malaria.
At the announcement ceremony, Williams said, “I’m really happy that I have this platform and to be able to use it for something I truly care about.”
She added that her appointment creates an opportunity for her not only to promote the work of UNICEF but also to encourage the public to get involved with helping to improve children’s lives.
As a Goodwill Ambassador, Williams will support UNICEF’s mission to provide a quality education for the most vulnerable children through its Schools for Africa program and the forthcoming Schools for Asia initiatives.
Schools for Africa is a joint initiative founded in 2004 by UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Peter Kramer Stiftung, aimed at providing quality basic education to millions of the most marginalized children in 11 African countries.
She pledged to bring the same determination and focus to her goodwill ambassadorship as she brings to her tennis game. Williams has won 27 tennis Grand Slam titles: 13 singles, 12 women’s doubles and two mixed doubles. She is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist.
Williams plans to mobilize support, in part, through her vast social media following. She reportedly has more than 2 million Twitter followers.
“I want to be the best at what I do and whether it is tennis or anything else, I definitely want to stand out and make a lasting impression,” she emphasized to the audience, gathered at UNICEF’s annual summit.