Being one of the most popular tennis players in the world, many people wonder about the true nationality of Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic is a Serbian who was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1987, before Yugoslavia split up. He grew up in Serbia in the midst of a civil war. Novak is loyal to his country and has gone through great lengths to stay true to his nationality.
Read below to learn more about Djokovic’s challenges and journey in his personal life and career.
Novak’s Hardships In Serbia
During Novak’s childhood years, Yugoslavia was going through a very difficult time. The country, which is made up of six republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia) went through a series of ethnic conflicts, insurgencies and wars of independence. While the tensions started way back in the 1920s, it escalated in the early 1980s.
After decades of political hardships, Yugoslavia eventually split into different independent countries by the early 90s. On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia declared their secession from the federation. This was followed by Macedonia and Bosniaks. Serbia and Montenegro also created their new federation and wrote a new constitution in 1992.
With civil unrest happening, Novak Djokovic and his family had to endure years of war. It was not an easy time for anyone who was in Serbia. Djokovic has shared that during these times, when bombings in Belgrade were happening; he and his family had to spend a couple of hours hiding in the middle of the night in their basement.
Aside from life-threatening bombings, the country’s economy was also greatly affected by the war and constant uprising. This also took a toll in Djokovic’s family, as work and business opportunities dwindled down.
These challenges did not deter Novak from chasing his dreams. In fact, he said that his hardships have been one of the driving factors that inspired him to pursue greatness.
Watch Novak’s interview with Graham Bensinger below, where he recalls the bombings he had to live through in war-torn Serbia before:
Loyalty To His Country
While some people crash under pressure, Novak seems to thrive in it. In the same interview, he states that he used difficult times from his past to fuel his success. It definitely wasn’t an easy journey to achieve 17 Grand Slam singles titles and be the number 1 tennis player in the world.
Novak started playing tennis at the early age of 4 years old. Mentored by coach Jelena Gencic at 6 years old, Novak became more inspired to learn tennis. His training became even more serious at 13 years old, when he was sent to the Pilic Academy in Germany. He started competing internationally at 14 years old.
Djokovic’s secret was his drive to succeed, which made him such a hardworking athlete. He also had natural talent that made it easier for him to be trained. When he was 14 years old, he received an offer from tennis agents to switch nationalities and play for England.
During that time, the Djokovic family was still in financial troubles, which made the offer so tempting. According to Novak’s mom, she seriously considered moving her family to England because she knew they would have better opportunities there. There were good schools and better facilities for Novak to practice in but she stated in an interview that she knew they would not be happy living elsewhere.
“You cannot sell your soul and what you are…” Dijana Djokovic says. “I think that Novak never will play for England or United Kingdom as he plays for his country, with his whole heart.”
Despite the tempting offer, the family took the risk to stay in Serbia, even when the country was still recovering from political struggles. The decision proved to be the right one, as Novak went on to become one of the best tennis players in the whole world, bringing pride and glory to his country.