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Making a Difference with the Fearless Force That is Madison Keys
By: Nick McCarvel

As the oldest of four sisters, Madison Keys doesn’t take lightly her place as a role model in this world, and nearly three years ago, the Illinois native set out on what she considers to be one of the most important journeys of her career.

She partnered with FearlesslyGIRL, an anti-bullying non-profit aimed at making the world a kinder place for young girls, which Keys, as a professional athlete, knows is an uphill battle.

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“I want people to think ‘would you say this to your daughter?’” Keys said when she initially joined the “Kinder Girl World” movement back in 2016, focusing initially on cyber-bullying.

She hosted her first town hall-style assembly in her hometown of Rock Creek, Ill. It was – of course – a smashing success.

“It’s really just getting a group of girls in one room and putting them in a judgement-free zone,” Keys said last year after a summit meeting in Miami. “A lot of them go back to their schools and start their own clubs.”

Founded in 2011, FearlesslyGIRL puts on assemblies while also supplying classroom curriculum to over 200 chapters in seven different countries around the world, including 27 states in the U.S.

All aimed at empowering young women to make the world a better place with and for one another.

“Madison has accomplished a lot of great things on the tennis court because she has dedicated lots and lots of hours to her career,” said Madison’s mom, Christine Keys. “To me, as her mom, some of the most significant successes she has accomplished, and what makes me so very proud of her, are the times when she touches the girls at the FearlesslyGIRL summits and I can actually see their eyes light up because she made them feel special. Those are very proud momma moments.”

Christine will have another “proud momma moment” this week when the Volvo Car Open honors Madison as a “Player Who Makes a Difference.” Last year, local star Shelby Rogers won the inaugural award.

“Madison’s support of and dedication to FearlesslyGIRL is inspirational and heartwarming,” said tournament manager Eleanor Adams. “By example, Madison is giving young girls the strength to stand up for themselves and to support each other with kindness. I admire the difference she is making in these girls' lives and I am so proud of her.”

Beyond gatherings at home in Illinois and in Miami, Keys hosted some 70 girls before last year’s US Open in New York, detailing for them how she continued to believe in herself after losing in the 2017 US Open championship match.

“It was very interesting,” 12-year-old Cymone Crump, a junior player told the US Open website. “I learned that all girls go through the same stuff, and we should talk about it.”

It’s an honor well deserved for Keys, a person who lives her life just like she plays her tennis: Fearlessly.

Tags: Volvo Car Open, WTA, women's tennis, FearlesslyGIRL, Madison Keys, Charleston tennis
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