Djokovic Earns Lifetime Fan In Cancer Survivor In Cincinnati
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic reached the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open Thursday by defeating Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets. But the Serbian was not the biggest winner on the court. That honour went to the boy who escorted him to his bench before his victory.
Djokovic held a boy named Joel’s hand walking onto to the court. And before the usual pre-match meeting with the chair umpire, the top seed invited Joel to sit on his bench, and even opened up a water bottle for him. According to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s social media pages, Joel is a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma before he was born.
“I met him just before we walked onto the court. He was actually holding my hand, I was walking with him on the court and I actually heard after the first set the speaker said he survived a neuroblastoma cancer when he was a 10-day-old baby and he was wearing a shirt [that said], ‘I Am A Champion’,” Djokovic said on Friday after advancing to the semi-finals. “Those kinds of moments stay with him for a long time and I wanted to make him feel comfortable. I know what it means to him to be on the court and for me it was just a little bit of attention and a gesture to make him feel good.”
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 16, 2019
The 33-time ATP Masters 1000 champion has long supported children through charity, as his Novak Djokovic Foundation focusses on efforts to improve early childhood education. The foundation aids children by giving them a chance to enjoy a quality preschool education, helping build a foundation for future success.
More On Djokovic’s Charity Work
Novak Helps Raise More Than $100,000 In ‘Season Of Giving’ Campaign
Djokovic: ‘Children Are Our Everything’
Novak Partners With Harvard To Defeat ‘Toxic Effects Of Child Poverty’
No matter whether Djokovic goes on to claim his second Cincinnati crown or not, he will leave Ohio with at least one new lifetime fan. Joel received an experience he will never forget, and Djokovic summarised his feelings about the moment perfectly on his own social media accounts.
“He survived and now he rightfully wears the t-shirt that says CHAMPION.”