Justine Hénin-Hardenne appointed UNESCO Champion for SportThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today appointed tennis player Justine Hénin-Hardenne, of the French Community of Belgium, a UNESCO Champion for Sport, entrusting her with a special mission to promote the fight against doping in sport.
Announcing the appointment, Mr Matsuura spoke of Justine Hénin-Hardenne’s personality and paid tribute to “her strength of character and her commitment to excellence, fair-play and integrity. It is these attributes,” he continued, “and her ability to inspire young people that will help UNESCO to educate tomorrow’s athletes about ethics in sport and spread the anti-doping message. With this appointment, the first of a woman UNESCO Champion for Sport, I am convinced that public attention and support for our campaign against doping in sport will be significantly bolstered,” he added.
A three-time winner of the French Open over four years – including this year’s tournament which ended just a few days ago – Justine Hénin-Hardenne has won 24 titles to date, including the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and a Gold Medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic games. She turned professional in 1999 and is currently ranked number three by the Women’s Tennis Association.
Wishing Ms Hénin-Hardenne success at Wimbledon where she is now playing, Mr Matsuura announced that an official ceremony for her appointment will be organized at a later date.
Ms Hénin-Hardenne joins the ranks of other UNESCO Champions for Sport: Ukrainian pole-vaulter Serhiy Bubka, French judo champion David Douillet, Russian ice hockey champion Vyacheslav Fetisov, and German Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher. Brazilian footballer Edson Arantes do Nascimento – King Pelé – has been UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1994.