In an interview to Jay Shetty, Novak Djokovic recalled when his country, Serbia, went through war. The Serbian player made a very deep and honest reflection about it. “From ’91, ’92 to all the way to 2000 we had the embargo, the war for break and milk, absolutely the most necessary things and then in ’99 in Serbia we had bombings, for two and half months every single day and night.
When I was there, my family was there, we would wake up every night for two and a half months because of the alarm, the plannings flying over and it was devastating, frightening. It was the worst thing that we have ever seen.
Just seeing air flights over your head dropping bombs and hospitals and everything and it was terrible. Many innocent people died, thankfully I did not lose personally anyone close to me but I know people who have lost their dearest ones and that’s a scar that stays in you forever, so this memory will stay with me forever.”
Continuing, he said, “But at the beginning, I felt that, for most people in our country, I wanted revenge, who are these guys to bomb innocent people. What’s going on? I was 12 years old and I remember I was there day and night and I celebrated my 12th birthday during the day because we did not go to school obviously, it was hiding in shelters and then after a week or two hiding we just said, we are gonna go about our life and that’s it, we are not gonna care what’s gonna happen, if we are hit, what we can do? So I remember on my 12th birthday I was seeing friends at the tennis club and spend a lot of times playing tennis, we did not go to school so it was great!
They were singing the Happy Birthday song and I have this image of a plane dropping bombs everywhere and it was terrible but at the same time I felt like as I was growing inside out as well and my parents helped me a lot with that.
It’s we can’t judge the whole nation or everyone for the actions of certain individuals, groups, institutions or whoever decided to bomb our country and kill innocent people. We cannot judge people for that, and you want to absolutely forgiven everyone and everything that they have done but you cannot forget that.
But on a brighter side, it has given a lot of value to my life and a lot of appreciation.” He added, “I am so grateful for this experience because it has helped me to shape me into the person and tennis player that I am today, to have more hunger to work, train, build myself so I can show to the world that kid from war-torn country can actually be the best in a sport that is very global, but all these experiences have definitely been there for a reason and I do not regret anything, I do not pity anything.
That’s my karma, something that I had to go through and I had live that and if we managed to go through that not only as a family but as people, as a nation, there is not much that you can breakdown. Historically Serbian people in the region had a lot of hard wars and hardships and they have been through that, so it was really nice to see the unity between people.
I was actually talking the other day with my brother and my wife on what was the strongest image that stayed with us from this is that I remember thousands of people gathering on one of the most important bridges that we have in our city, wearing t-shirts that have targets and everyone painted their heads in a shape of a target and singing songs, just enjoying, having fun, in a way showing to the world and whoever is dropping bombs that we are the target so we are protecting this bridge, this city. If you want to crush it, you have to go through us and I think power unity, resilience, strength was beautiful.”