Roger Federer, the man regarded by many as the greatest tennis player of all time, travelled to South Africa to visit the Hlukani and Govhu creches in Limpopo province this week. Both creches have benefited from the Roger Federer Foundation's partnership with local non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Read Educational Trust (Read).
The two organisations have been partners since 2010, and the Federer Foundation so far supports 14 creches. The aim is to increase that number to 40.
"We have to have partners because we obviously can't do this alone," Federer told IOL's Kevin McCullum this week. "You need the community, the partners to give the best possible opportunity for the kids."
Read's partnership with the Federer Foundation has so far reached 27 teachers, 953 learners and 14 schools in Limpopo province.
A decision was taken late last year to increase the foundation's contribution to Read due to the good results the partnership produced in its first two years. During 2012 and 2013, the Foundation will contribute R8.7-million.
Describing his interaction with the children on his recent visit, Federer, the father of twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, said: "I loved playing with the kids. They were between two and six years old, right in the sort of demographic of my own kids, so it felt really like home a little bit."
South African ties
Federer's mother Lynette is South African, and that means he has close ties to the country, although his last visit was eight years ago.
"I can't believe I haven't been here for eight years," he told McCullum. "I had planned to come back a lot more, but the next thing you know I become this good tennis player and I have to travel all around the world, and so when you don't have to travel, you just don't.
"I'm very happy to have made this trip again, to see some friends and family," he added. "It was so worthwhile. I know it won't be another eight years until I come back to South Africa."
The number of children benefiting from the Federer Foundation includes 14 000 children in South Africa, 16 000 in Zimbabwe, 10 000 in Zambia, 6 500 in Malawi, 3 200 in Ethiopia and 150 in Switzerland.
Federer has won more Grand Slam singles titles than any man in history, with 17 to his name, including seven Wimbledon titles, five US Opens, four Australian Opens and one French Open.
He is still one of the world's leading players at the age of 31, which is considered "old" for a top tennis player. Yet he was good enough to win Wimbledon last year and is currently ranked second in the world behind Novak Djokovic.