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30 June 2011

Heart Award winners receive cheques


Photo: Ray GiubiloAndrea Petkovic (GER)

Andrea Petkovic and Victoria Azarenka both joined an elite group of players earlier this year when they were named Heart Award winners for their exploits in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

Petkovic earned recognition for her performance during Germany’s 5-0 victory over USA in the World Group play-offs, while Azarenka was honoured after Belarus’s successful campaign in Europe/Africa Zone Group I.

As part of their reward, Petkovic and Azarenka receive cheques to be donated to their chosen charities, and after a few near misses the Heart Award organisers finally caught up with the two players at Wimbledon.

“It means a lot to me,” said Petkovic, during her run to the third round. “I enjoy very much playing Fed Cup. It’s always the highlight of my year, playing in the team with my girls. So I’m just really happy that it’s been appreciated by other people as well.”

Petkovic decided to split her $3,000 donation between two charities, the Podgora road building project in Bosnia and a junior tennis centre in Germany, called TEC Damstadt.

“I’ve picked two charities because my parents are from Serbia and I’m German, and I wanted to split the money,” said Petkovic, who went 4-0 in Fed Cup singles play this year.

“One is going to a road building project in Bosnia. The name of the town is called Podgora. It’s very close to where I was born and because of the war everything is destroyed.

“The other half is going to TEC Damstadt. It’s a tennis club with a junior department. We have one kid there who is very sick. He had a brain tumour and we’re all supporting him to get back on track and to try and get healthy.”

After suffering the disappointment of being relegated from the World Group in 2010, Germany have bounced straight back to the competition’s top tier, following wins against Slovenia and USA, and Petkovic believes they have the potential to go all the way in the future.

“I definitely think we can win Fed Cup one day, one year,” said the world No. 13. “I’m not sure if it’s going to be this year, next year or in five, ten years, but I definitely think we have the potential.

“We have three girls now who can win singles against it doesn’t matter who, and also we have the potential in doubles. So we have a bright future as a Fed Cup team and I just hope everyone stays injury free and plays.”

Azarenka is donating her cheque to her own charity, The Victoria Azarenka Foundation, which supports children with brain cancer and includes an oncology research programme.

“It’s going to go to my Foundation which helps kids with brain cancer,” said Azarenka. “There’s a huge centre in Belarus that we’ve been helping for a while so it’s going to go to them. Hopefully it will be a little bit of help and make a difference.”

Azarenka led Belarus to promotion this year after the most comprehensive 5-0 victory in Fed Cup history against Estonia in the World Group II play-offs, and now the world No. 5 is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

“We’re going to take it step-by-step,” said the 21 year-old. “It’s a big chance for us. We have a good team, so we want to make it to the World Group. I’m looking forward to next year.”

The Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award is a joint initiative between BNP Paribas and the ITF. It aims to recognise players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on court and demonstrated outstanding commitment to their team.

After each round of Fed Cup, a judging panel headed up by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti shortlists a group of players, and then a public vote on the official Fed Cup website decides the winners.

Find out more about the Heart Award

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    • Andrea Petkovic (GER)Andrea Petkovic (GER)
    • Victoria Azarenka (BLR)Victoria Azarenka (BLR)



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