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Tennis has the Power to Help!
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I traveled to Ethiopia in December with one thing in mind: bring my adopted son back to America, be a father to him, and give him a better life. With the recent addition to my family, my eyes were opened to a world that I'd never seen before. I didn't realize how large of an impact it would have on me. The people of Ethiopia are extremely gracious, wonderfully spiritual and tremendously resilient - all characteristics that I strive to embody in my life. They work hard and they appreciate, not expect, all they get in return. Some may say it is because they do not know any better, but this is not the case, as many are well aware of the rest of the world.

Some big names in tennis are also giving back.

Roger Federer recently visited Ethiopia, and I commend him for his involvement in the development of Africa, with his foundation spending $1 million per year on education across the continent. Tennis is not yet a prominent sport in Africa, but they all know who Roger Federer is. He was greeted by songs of "Roger, our father" that brought tears to his eyes. Chants of "Number one! Number one!" showed that they knew who he was as tennis professional. It is also clear that he is a world-class person. The people of Ethiopia rightfully adore Roger for what he has done on the tennis court and what he is doing for Africa.

Serena Williams is also committed to helping Africa. In 2008, she visited Kenya and commissioned her first school to be built. Very recently, she vowed to build one school per year in parts of Africa that had none. Serena is not only an incredible ambassador for the sport of tennis, but also for humankind.

Sport has the power to transcend across the globe and brings people together no matter their socio-economic status or their background, and all it takes is one player to inspire an entire nation. I am reminded of a former student of mine, Anna Kournikova, who created a Russian tennis frenzy that led to a wave of top players. The appeal of tennis spans across the globe because the idea is simple: you have a ball in one hand, a racket in the other, and a partner across the net - now compete! I would love to see the sport take a strong hold in these poorer nations because of that ability to inspire. There will always be places for tennis to teach life lessons through hard work, practice and drive. This holds true in Ethiopia and all of Africa.

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Page updated on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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