(July 9, 2013) Monday evening at the Roundhouse in London, tennis stars, celebrities and distinguished guests helped raise over $1.7 million at the Novak Djokovic Foundation’s inaugural London Gala and fundraiser event.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and his longtime girlfriend and the Foundation’s executive director, Jelena Ristic, were a beautiful site at the star-studded event, which included Kate Hudson, Gerard Butler, Jeremy Piven, Sir Richard Branson, Goldie Hawn, Ronnie Wood, Jonathan Ross, Princess Beatrice and Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York among its 300 guests.
Demonstrating the Foundation’s worldwide support from Djokovic’s international circle of friends involved in fashion, sport, music, entertainment and business, auction prizes included a money-can’t-buy yacht getaway with Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson, a signed guitar by Ronnie Wood and a seven day holiday at Sir Richard Branson’s private island, Necker, situated in the British Virgin Islands.
A game of tennis also ensued on the tennis court stage, where Boris Becker took to the umpire’s chair, Jeremy Piven did the splits with Djokovic and even Kate Hudson grabbed a tennis racquet while clad in her flowing Elie Saab dress.
UNICEF Ambassador Djokovic founded the Novak Djokovic Foundation in 2007 with a mission to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children from the lack of nutrition, education, illness or loss of family, especially in his native Serbia.
By Romi Cvitkovic
True to his word of having “days without tennis” in order to get over his loss to Andy Murray in the U.S. Open final, Novak Djokovic hosted an inaugural dinner for his Foundation in downtown Manhattan venue Capitale just two days later, and welcomed celebrities from all walks of life. (Video at bottom.)
The endless stream of celebrity arrivals included royals, business moguls, fashion designers, tennis greats and top models, including tennis commentator John McEnroe, the Duchess and Princess of York, fashion designers Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger, fashion editor Anna Wintour and models Anja Rubik and Karlie Kloss among dozens of others.
Novak Djokovic also caught up with tennis great John McEnroe and shared a few laughs:
Donna Karan (L) and Tommy Hilfiger enjoyed each other’s company:
Proud parents, Dijana and Srdjan Djokovic arrived looking fabulous:
John McEnroe happily greeting the smiling Djokovics during the dinner:
Founded in 2007 and inspired by his work as an ambassador for UNICEF, the Novak Djokovic Foundation seeks to help children in Serbia “have the education and resources to lead productive and healthy lives” according to the Foundation’s website. While Djokovic serves as the Founder and Honorary Chair of the Foundation, Donna Karan, Anja Rubik, producer Milutin Gatsby and business tycoon Ronald Burkle act as Chairs.
A special guest of note was motivational speaker Nick Vujicic who suffers from tetra-amelia syndrome – a rare disorder where individuals are born with no limbs. Born in Australia to Serbian immigrants, Vujicic has written a book speaking on the challenges he has overcome and encourages others to lead an active life.
The evening featured cocktails, dinner, a live auction and special performances, with Djokovic entertaining the guests with his charisma and mega-watt smile. Is there anything this man can’t do!?
Novak Djokovic entertains the crowd and, wait — is that a miniature tennis racquet he is auctioning off!? It seems that not only did he auction off a pair of his Audemars Piguet watches, but also himself!
(All photos via Getty Images)
What happens to a tennis player in the moments after they win a tournament? Well, after Novak Djokovic won the Sony Ericsson Open against Andy Murray, the cameras followed the champion around during his first hectic hour around the grounds.
After the awards ceremony, but before leaving the stadium, Djokovic rewards a lucky fan with literally the t-shirt off his back before going off-court to hug his agent followed by his girlfriend, Jelena Ristic. There, he is further greeted with friends, including former NBA and current Serbian professional basketball player, Marko Jaric. Jaric may best be known for taking Brazilian model Adriana Lima off the market when they wed back in 2009. Djokovic is then taken to speak with the media before going on to a more fan-friendly atmosphere.
From there, Djokovic steps outside and is greeted by the Pope from Sarasota who immediately starts singing “Mnoga ljeta” meaning “many more years” alluding to Djokovic’s invincibility on court. He then walks over to the ballpersons tent, thanking them before being taken to a hospitality tent to pose for photos and sign autographs for fans. At the end, the swarm of fans around Djokovic is more akin to a Nadal or Federer sighting, but Djokovic takes it in stride before jogging back to presumably celebrate with friends — or maybe take a nap — or have a bagel. I don’t know. They all sound good if you’re Novak Djokovic.
Enjoy the full video of Djokovic’s victory lap below!
Rafael Nadal’s drug tests, Novak Djokovic “waxing” and winning, and Davis Cup outtakes are some of the happenings this week on the ATP Tour. We’ll take a look at the history of Nadal’s doping tests, introduce you to Djokovic 2.0 and his beautiful girlfriend Jelena Ristic, as well as inspect some memorable Davis Cup moments featuring Roger Federer, Mardy Fish, Tommy Haas, and Bernard Tomic among others.
Just days after a French TV show aired a Rafael Nadal skit that was meant to be a joke, insinuating that Nadal takes performance-enhancing drugs, Nadal tweeted about a surprise anti-doping test he had on Saturday morning stating that “it’s expected after everything … but I’m happy it’s like this!”
To those not familiar with the Tennis Anti-Doping Program, any professional tennis player can get tested and “must submit upon request to testing … at any time or place.” This means testing can be done during or outside of a tournament, while on vacation, or in the early-morning hours, and a player must report their whereabouts, or risk being banned from playing professional tennis. All cases are “surprise” cases to ensure honest results and players may be tested anywhere from several times per tournament to a couple of times per year. Typically, higher-ranked players are targeted but any player could be tested.
In 2009, 1972 in-competition tests (urine, blood, and EPO) and 154 out-of-competition tests were performed by the anti-doping agency — only a slight increase from the 2069 total tests done the year before. Nadal, in particular, was tested 10 times in 2009 and twice at Roland Garros, while only playing 18 total events. In 2008, he was tested 8 times during tournament play and twice more out-of-competition. In 2007, he was tested only 5 times while in 2006 he was tested 10 times. We can argue that doping is quickly becoming more prevalent among athletes as the technology needed to accurately identify a positive result is falling behind. But to insinuate that an athlete that has passed the roughly 75 or so drug tests given to him in the past decade, is just plain ludicrous and irresponsible.
Just five days after winning his third Australian Open, Novak Djokovic was awarded the “Laureus World Sportsman of the Year” beating out the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Usain Bolt, and Lionel Messi among others. He attended the Laureus Welcome Party and the awards ceremony in London with long-time Serbian girlfriend, Jelena Ristic, in hand. If you know nothing about his beautifully genuine girlfriend, then just enjoy her British accent in the video below. I dare you not to fall in love with tennis’ cutest couple.
And speaking of the devilishy-charming Djokovic, after attending a boxing match in Jagodina, Serbia, he unveiled a “larger than life” wax sculpture of himself in the town’s museum. He was greeted by some 6,000 fans and was happy to oblige for photos. Even though the wax statue is wearing Djokovic’s Sergio Tacchini ensemble and holding a tennis racquet used by the man himself, I wonder how much he paid the sculptor to give him an extra few inches … and a bigger head.
In lighter news, the Davis Cup is in full swing this weekend and it has already brought in some memorable photos.
”Alexia, this is my friend Roger. He has two girls your age, Myla and Charlene. Make sure to befriend both of them and become a better champion in tennis than your daddy. Now, can you say ‘Myla’ and ‘Charlene?’”
Not sure if this sign is a compliment for Bernard Tomic, but you can’t say the Australians don’t go all-out in support of their players — even if they do liken them to drooling dogs.
Tommy Haas and his German compatriots just lost the Davis Cup to Argentina, 0-3, but all Haas cares about is if his hair looks good. Yes. Yes, it does, Tommy. I whole-heartedly approve.
I’m not sure what is so funny to Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan, but I would be laughing too if I had just beaten the reigning Olympic champion Roger Federer on clay. The American men surprised the entire tennis world as they dominated the Swiss in Davis Cup action handily winning 3-0, with John Isner defeating Federer on Saturday in singles.
When are height differences not funny? The answer: never. Ivo Karlovic at 6’10” towers over Kei Nishikori who is just 5’10″. Croatia currently leads Japan 2-1 and the winner will be decided on Sunday in singles’ play.
by Maud Watson
In a field that contained among others the fastest man in the world, an international soccer star, and a 7’0” German NBA power forward, it was Novak Djokovic who took home the top honor as he was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year. The award represented hard-earned recognition for the outstanding season he had in 2011, and it also marked the sixth time in eight years that the prestigious award went to a male tennis player. Djokovic’s win has brought more favorable press to the sport, and with the men’s game in particular looking stronger than ever, this can only be great for the future of tennis. Well done to the current No. 1, and with his title in Australia, it may not be too premature to suggest he’s building a case to repeat for the award in 2013.
Between an epic Aussie Open final, growing buzz about the Olympics, and that ever popular topic of “grunting” in women’s tennis, Yannick Noah’s unfounded accusatory remarks regarding alleged Spanish doping were all but forgotten. At least they were, until French television channel Canal+ aired an episode of Les Guignols (The Puppets) featuring a life-size puppet Nadal relieving himself into his gas tank, which allowed him to break speed limits before finally being stopped by cops. A message then appeared on screen that all but blatantly stated Spanish athletes only succeed in sports because they cheat. The skit is clearly coming out now, because Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador has been handed a two-year ban and stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for doping. Les Guignols is also a satirical program, so ordinarily such an episode might have been begrudgingly laughed off by Spaniards. But in the wake of Noah’s comments, the Spanish Tennis Federation, whose logo also appeared in the skit, is taking legal action. Subsequent similar-themed skits have also prompted the government of Spain to look into taking legal action. Ironically, the ones who might be the worse for wear in all of this are the French sporting organizations and athletes, such as the French Tennis Federation and French players, who hopefully won’t be left where they were after Noah’s remarks – holding the bag and offering apologies.
A Total Farce
Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see some of the game’s top stars sign up for Davis and Fed Cup duty, and it’s not because they’re feeling a strong patriotic calling. It’s 2012, and it’s an Olympic year. It really is a joke watching players suddenly become available, which is why the ITF should either look at abolishing the requirements altogether, or maybe the Olympics should return to just being for amateurs. After all, it’s not as though these tennis players don’t already compete at the highest levels of international competition week in and week out, with their successes indirectly benefiting their home countries. A change to the current system would also help alleviate potential politics from being played. Sure, there isn’t much grumbling when Federer or Murray answer their country’s call, as they’re from nations that most likely won’t be in a position to field a full Olympic roster. But then there are countries like the United States where talk of including both Williams Sisters on the Olympic team has already sparked talk of a potentially ugly situation if what some consider a more deserving candidate gets left off the roster. The Olympic qualification system is flawed no matter how you slice it, and the ITF should revisit it along with the Davis and Fed Cup formats.
No official announcement has been made, but news that well-known tennis coach Nick Bollettieri won’t be among the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 has spread fast. Personally, I’m not a fan of the Hall of Fame’s classification system. It’s possible to recognize contributors without putting them on the same plane as players, and the Masters Category should only be used for those whose careers coincided with the “Americans only” induction rule that wasn’t abolished until 1975 (if a player’s career achievements aren’t good enough to get them inducted within 20 years of retirement, why are they suddenly sufficient 21+ years later?). But all that aside, under the Hall of Fame’s current system, it seems ludicrous to not have Bollettieri as part of the mix. Then again, there have been plenty of other questionable inductions in the past (Chang getting the nod the same year Bruguera and Stich did not comes to mind), so Bollettieri shouldn’t be too broken up about it. People know what he’s contributed, even if the Hall of Fame voters fail to recognize it.
Former Spanish tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario may have just one-upped Andre Agassi when it comes to shocking book revelations. News broke that the former No. 1 is estranged from her family, that she is basically broke, and is accusing her parents of mismanaging her funds. It paints a very different picture from the loving family we saw when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame almost five years ago. There are two sides to every story, and it appears that these revelations may only get uglier. Hopefully they will be able to reconcile their differences, not only because it would be a shame to see anything serve as a deterrent to Arantxa and her brothers continuing to serve the sport, but most importantly because given the state of her father’s health, it’s what that family needs most.
With the ATP World Tour Finals starting on Sunday in London’s O2 Arena, the top eight men of tennis have been practicing, hitting the gym, and attending movie premieres. Every tournament comes with it’s own obligatory players party, and today’s in London looked exceptional as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish all dressed the part. Some even brought their lovely significant other.
The gala was officially called ’A Night With The Stars’ hosted by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and supported by Moet & Chandon at the famous Battersea Power Station. If this building looks familiar to you rockers, it’s because Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album uses the same scene.
First up, Man of the Year Novak Djokovic attended with girlfriend Jelena Ristic. After going all black at last night’s British premiere of Twilight’s “Break Dawn: Part 1,” the two pull off an all grey ensemble. Even with Jelena’s “nerdy” look, she is stunningly beautiful next to her man.
Not to be outdone, ATP World Tour Finals rookie Mardy Fish graces the gala with wife Stacey Gardner. She is best known as a “Briefcase Model” on NBC’s Deal or No Deal, but don’t pick a fight with her, she’s also an attorney.
Next up, the talented Czech Tomas Berdych showed off his newest trophy, girlfriend Ester Satorova. (Anyone else notice how eerily close her last name is to his former girlfriend, WTA tennis player Lucie Safarova?) Not sure if it’s the angles, but their body language sure does say a lot.
Rafael Nadal and girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello also looked breath-taking in black. Her sandals are stylish but Rafa’s over-gelled hair needs some work. His signature sultry half-smile might make up for it though.
Now onto the singletons! Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was looking sharp and relaxed, but I’m sure he would have looked even better with a lady by his side. Any takers?
Looking at the photo of Andy Murray below, it still baffles me how he didn’t win “Most Stylish Male” at this year’s Scottish Style Awards. Baffles! His haircut makes or breaks him on events like this. This one is a true win!
David Ferrer has been the underrated Spaniard for years now, but his chiseled features spice up any suit he wears. He might need someone to teach him how to tie his tie though.
And finally, Roger Federer the King of Tennis himself. Yes, by himself! No wife, no daughters, no Blackberries … ok, there may have been a Blackberry in there somewhere. But I sure hope Rolex pays him enough for these advertisement placements. Man knows how to work a camera!
And there you have it. The men were welcomed to London in grand style and we’re ready for another ATP World Tour Finals!