World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has won everyone's respect with his charity work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Serbian player has emerged as the only player from tennis - or probably the sporting world at large - to have contributed funds to three different countries in these testing times.
The nations that have benefited from Djokovic's philanthropy are Serbia, Italy and Spain, the latter two of which are among the worst-hit in Europe.
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are considered to be members of the 'Big 3' group in tennis. Some fans and lower-ranked players have questioned the massive income gap between the Big 3 and the others, but the trio have shown their generosity by donating a substantial amount of money towards charitable activities.
Federer and Nadal had raised over $3 million by playing an exhibition match in Africa earlier this year. The two legends have also donated considerable sums to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective countries.
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic, the leader of the ATP Player Council, had taken the initiative to form a relief fund for the lower-ranked players that would assist them financially during the lockdown period. In addition, the Novak Djokovic Foundation has repeatedly donated ventilators and monitors to local hospitals.
But the Serb's charitable work has extended well beyond his sport and even his country, which sets him apart from the rest.
Novak Djokovic's charitable work in three European countries
Novak Djokovic donated an undisclosed amount to hospitals in Bergamo, Italy in the early stages of the pandemic.
The 2020 Australian Open champion considers Rome to be his second home, and has often said how close Italy is to his heart. The Director-General of an Italian health authority, Peter Assembergs, publicly lauded Novak Djokovic for his donation.
Before that, Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena had raised €1 million towards coronavirus relief efforts through their charitable organization. The couple gave the entire amount to Serbian hospitals, and assisted them in buying ventilators and other necessary medical equipment.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner even donated 5 million Serbian Dinars (approximately €42,500) to help Novi Pazar fight the pandemic. The Serbian town of Novi Pazar was one of the worst-hit areas by the COVID-19 outbreak, and Djokovic's contribution helped them a great deal.
Next, the three-time US Open winner contributed $5.5 million to the healthcare department and Christian charities in Serbia.
During the initial phase of the lockdown period, Rafael Nadal had launched the #nuestramejorvictoria campaign to help the needy people in Spain. Despite being a fierce rival of Nadal on the court, Novak Djokovic made enormous contributions to this fund - and the Spaniard thanked him for his gesture with a special tweet.
Even though Novak Djokovic has attracted much criticism for organizing the Adria Tour in the Balkans, nobody can deny that he is a big-hearted man who deserves appreciation for his charitable activities.Published 30 Jul 2020, 19:10 IST