New York: World number one Novak Djokovic took a break from his US Open preparations on Friday to address the United Nations, where he encouraged youngsters to follow his path to global stardom.
The 26-year-old Serb told the UN General Assembly, where an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was declared for April 6, that he was inspired to play tennis by watching American great Pete Sampras.
"I dreamt of being just like him, the number one tennis player in the world," said Djokovic.
"It took me 13 years to achieve my goal. I hope this international day will motivate each of us to invest in every way additional efforts in cultivating the intrinsic sporting values such as fairplay, teamwork and respect for the opponent.
"Sport can help direct general attention to the most at risk and vulnerable in our community, especially disadvantaged children. When we encourage kids to dream big and work hard, we can make a tangible difference in their lives."
Djokovic later returned to the US Open venue of Flushing Meadows where the last Grand Slam tournament of the season gets underway on Monday and where he was champion in 2011.
"It was a real honor to address the UN and be given special privilege to speak on behalf of global family of athletes on this historic day," Djokovic later tweeted.