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Novak Djokovic Reveals How Years of Success in Tennis Hindered His Role as a Father in a Hard-Hitting Admission

Published 05/15/2024, 7:52 AM EDT

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via Reuters

Novak Djokovic’s name in the tennis world reverberates across time. With over a two-decade-long career, the World No. 1 has his name etched in history as the G.O.A.T of tennis. However, this relentless pursuit of excellence in court comes with its own set of sacrifices. And for the Serbian maestro, it includes the times when he has to stay away from his family.

Earlier this year, when Novak Djokovic was participating in the Australian Open, his family was back in Europe. And as he continued his competitive zeal halfway across the world, Djokovic made a heartfelt admission of how staying away from his children was hard for him. During a conversation with Nick Kyrgios, in the podcast called “Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios,” the 36-year-old player stated, “I really miss my children as we speak. Now they’re back in Europe. And I haven’t seen them for weeks.” 

Novak Djokovic, who married his longtime girlfriend, Jelena Ristic, back in July 2014, welcomed their first child, Stefan, just a few months later. And about three years later, Djokovic became the proud father of his daughter Tara, completing their family of four. Since then, Djokovic has enjoyed the support of his family during many of his tournaments. 

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Even during his 2023 U.S. Open victory, which earned him his 24th Grand Slam, his children were there to support this monumental achievement of their father. However, it could not be replicated in the Australian Open this year. Although, after battling through wrist injuries and viral fever, he reached the semifinals, he could not win against Jannik Sinner in that match. And on top of everything, even his family was not there to support him.

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However, it might be a blessing in disguise for the player. This is because he has previously admitted that doing well in Australia would prevent him from staying with his family. “If I do well, here, I will not see them for another two or three weeks. Who knows? And that’s hurting me more and more leaving them.”  But whenever he gets time, Djokovic previously shared how he enjoys his time with his children. 

Novak Djokovic reveals the “favorite part of the day”

Reflecting on an interview during the Australian Open this year, Djokovic disclosed how he loves to play with his children. “Dads should play with their children all the time. I mean, that’s like my favorite part of the day, just when I have their attention and when they have my attention, and we are fully present.”

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We have all seen that side of Djokovic, too. After his 2022 Wimbledon win, Djokovic was seen in a jolly mood, where he was playing with Tara on his back and Stefan racing with them. Addressing such moments, he further went on to add, “We play and we invent stuff. It’s the best. I’m getting emotional right now.”

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As Novak Djokovic continues to navigate the demands of his career, he remains grounded by the love and support of his family. He may be a champion on-court, but off the court, he’s simply ‘Dad’. And it is a role that takes center stage in his life.

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Written by:

Ankita Banerjee

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Ankita Banerjee is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. She seamlessly blends her keen interest in writing with an ability to analytically comprehend things. During her college days, she contributed numerous articles to the college magazine, showcasing her growing deep-rooted in the sport.
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Edited by:

Arijit Saha