Novak Djokovic offered a gesture of positivity on Sunday to commemorate World Mental Health Day, saying he’ll donate his first prize money in 2017 to charity.
The Serbian tennis player said on Facebook that he’ll give half of his ATP World Tour prize money to the Djokovic Foundation, an organization set up by the eight-time major winner for mental health issues.
Djokovic made the announcement on the same day the American Red Cross launched its #ShatterTheStigma campaign to combat mental health stigma, as awareness of mental health disorders and diseases is growing. This year’s World Mental Health Day is Tuesday.
Djokovic, 31, wrote in the message about the importance of mental health in the U.S. and around the world.
“I have seen the way I cope with these challenges since childhood. Growing up in Belgrade I was often in agony, and a terrible panic attack would start at 5 a.m. I was scared of the dark.
“The darker the afternoon the sharper the pain — all the more so if I was outside on the streets or in crowded places. Through unbreakable willpower I made it through, one of the many small victories in the life of a mental health sufferer.
“But I became depressed again after Wimbledon last year. And I am still suffering. I am working on many tasks, and of course these are not easy. But I feel even better on the court now.
“I pray that the best is yet to come. I pledge my first trophy payment this year (for 700,000 euros) to the Djokovic Foundation in order to help children of all nationalities and cultures in Serbia, and around the world to be treated without shame, stigma, or discrimination.”
The Novak Djokovic Foundation was established in 2016 to help children in developing countries. The work of the foundation also promotes the love and respect between different cultures, races, and ethnic groups. It also uses tennis as a learning medium to increase equality between different communities.
Djokovic offered these words to fellow tennis stars:
“I send my big heart to each of you. May our beautiful game of tennis bring happiness into our lives. And may the love and respect that we all enjoy be respected and normalized.”
On Twitter, the first words Djokovic tweeted following his announcement went viral: