Petra Kvitova, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Kei Kishikori hangout with children from the UNICEF Kid Power Program.
And in that same suite overlooking Stadium Court at the Miami Open, students from UNICEF’s Kid Power Program joined with players from the Stoneman Douglas High School tennis team and top names Petra Kvitova, Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Nicolas Jarry, Diego Schwartzman, and Nick Kyrgios, to have a Q&A. Together, they discussed overcoming adversity in life, finding power in oneself, and having a presence in one’s community.
It was one of these UNICEF Kid Power children who asked that affecting question. In a room full of children who, at such a young age, have taken an incredibly important and mindful step to be involved and impactful in their communities, some of the top tennis minds paused and looked at each other.
On an average day, they are the ones providing the inspiration. To fans from around the world, they are the heroes; the “Supermen” and “Wonder Women” — as explained by Stoneman Douglas girls tennis coach Amy Pena.
Cilic was quick to explain, however, that in that moment inspiration flowed the other way.
“For me personally, I believe that even kids like you can be an inspiration for us,” the US Open champion in 2014 said. “Anyone who is reaching their full potential, who is trying everyday to be the best version of their self, and who is constantly trying to improve in every possible way is an inspiration.”
Not only are these kids providing inspiration, but they are providing meaningful change in communities that need it the most. At an age when service and selflessness are rarely seen or expected, these young heroes have stepped up. They are working daily to be the best they can be, and allow that best version of themselves to have an impact on the world around them.
The cycle of inspiration is one that is essential to lifting people out of their darkest moments. Each generation can pave a new path for the one that follows by inspiring in them a strength to overcome the biggest obstacles.
Kei Nishikori spoke of moving to a new country at a young age without knowing the language or the people. Several students had spoken about a similar journey.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman shared their stories of trying to pursue their dreams in times of economic hardship. Several students nodded in solidarity, as they continue to face similar obstacles.
Petra Kvitova spoke to the girls about pursuing their dreams despite what people might say is expected of them.
Each had a story that resonated with someone in the audience. A story that they could connect with, through mutual hardship and struggle. These common struggles provide an avenue — a gateway, for inspiration to take root and affect deep and lasting change.
Whether it’s painting the line with an exceptional forehand on championship point or painting the home of an elderly woman in need. Whether its providing an exhilarating display of tennis on the world stage or providing a permanent home for an abused or neglected dog. Or whether its connecting with millions of fans around the world or just one who now knows he or she isn’t alone in his or her struggle to fit into a new world.
The players and volunteers participating in this day of service devoted to giving back have connected with communities in hopes of providing assistance and inspiration to the most vulnerable among the South Florida region. And, in the process, they have shared their similar dreams, struggles, and ways of persevering.
The Miami Open presented by Itaú annually provides a stage for some of the best tennis in the world, and the incredible players who make it happen. It also displays a showcase of that which is most beautiful about South Florida — its cultural diversity in its communities.
The Miami Open entertains, the Miami Open inspires, and — maybe most importantly, with the beginning of this annual initiative bringing together players and communities to give back, the Miami Open Unites.