HomeTennis
Tennis

“We Had to Wait in Line For Bread, Milk and Water” – Novak Djokovic Reflects on His Difficult Childhood

Published 03/05/2020, 3:23 PM EST
Novak Djokovic


A kid from the war-torn region of Belgrade Novak Djokovic heard loud explosions of bombs in sleep and simultaneously dreamt of winning Wimbledon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

At a tender age, the Serb had witnessed bombings and under those circumstances, it was impossible to even practice tennis. Despite those tough situations, Novak managed to hold his tennis racquet firm and become the legend of the sport by breaking and making numerous records.

“It’s hard to speak on behalf of Roger and Rafa. I have the utmost respect for these guys and admiration for who they are, what they have achieved and how they go about things on and off the court,” Novak answered when asked about ‘how do the Big Three manage to come back and triumph under incredible circumstances.’

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“I can speak on my own behalf. We all had different trajectories in our lives. We all grew up in different circumstances, different countries, different upbringing,” he continued.

Fighting against all the odds made him stronger every day. And that increased his hunger to achieve something significant in the sport.

Australian Open 2012

My upbringing was in Serbia during several wars during the ’90s, difficult time, embargo in our country where we had to wait in line for bread, milk, water, some basic things in life. These kinds of things make you stronger and hungrier for success I think in whatever you choose to do,” he shared.

“I came from literally nothing and difficult life circumstances” – Novak Djokovic 

Those difficult situations have made him the player who he is today. Be it a match or a tough situation in his career, his mental strength helps him to bounce back with an extra momentum after experiencing a slump. Novak believes everything was developed while he was growing up swinging his racquets in the war-prone region of Serbia. 

“That probably has been my foundation. The very fact that I came from literally nothing and difficult life circumstances together with my family and with my people. Going back to that, reminding myself where I came from. That always inspires me, motivates me to push even harder,” he said.

For instance, during the years 2015-16, the Serbian legend Novak Djokovic held four Grand Slams. But after completing his Career Slam reverie in Paris, Novak’s career started meandering. At Wimbledon 2016 he was stopped by Sam Querry in third-round. Also, he lost in the first round of the Rio Olympics and then at US Open finals.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Novak Djokovic

After failing to reach semifinals of a Grand Slam in 2017, Djokovic’s elbow issues hindered him from finishing the season.  Consequently, his ranking dropped out of the top-20.

Nevertheless, the Serbian ace resurged on the grass-courts of SW19. After his epic win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2018 semi-finals, Novak seems to be unstoppable on the ATP Tour.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

“That’s probably one of the reasons why I managed to find that extra gear or necessary, I guess, mental strength to overcome challenges when they present themselves,” the Serbian concluded.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Mahalakshmi Murali

1907 articles

Mahalakshmi Murali joined EssentiallySports in 2018 as a tennis author and has gone on to pen more than 1800 engaging articles, probing into various aspects of the sport and its illustrious players. With her expertise on the sport, Mahalakshmi has interviewed stalwarts from the sport such as Serena WIlliams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou and Kevin Anderson’s physio, Carlos Costa. Equipped with her vast experience and a keen understanding of the sport, Mahalakshmi now co-heads the tennis department.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT