"If I wasn't from Serbia": Djokovic on greatest sportsman debate

Tennis News
Monday, 11 September 2023 at 17:15
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Novak Djokovic has weighed in on those talking about considering him for the greatest sportsman of all time.
The World No. 1 has long been part of the debate over the tennis GOAT (greatest of all time). While many have argued over the years that the label should go to Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, Djokovic has surpassed both in terms of Grand Slam titles.
In fact, after winning his 24th title at Flushing Meadows yesterday, Sunday, September 11, Djokovic has now equaled Margaret Court's record for the most major titles of all time, leading many fans to suggest that he is not just the best tennis player, but also the greatest sportsman of all time.

Djokovic says nationality affects how he's viewed

Following his victory in New York, Djokovic was asked by Serbian media about his thoughts on the greatest sportsman debate.
"I leave that to you guys and all the others, whether I deserve to be a part of that debate," he said.
However, the 36-year-old went on to say that he believes he would have received more credit for his achievements earlier on had it not been for his Serbian nationality, stressing that he thinks this especially applies to the West.
"One thing is a fact, though – if I wasn’t from Serbia, I’d have been glorified on a sporting level many years ago, especially in the west.
"But that’s part of my journey, I am grateful and proud to come from Serbia – because of that, all of these accomplishments are sweeter and even more fulfilling," he continued.

Opens up on childhood in war-torn country

Djokovic also spoke about his past, particularly growing up in a war-torn Serbia, then part of Yugoslavia. While speaking to international media, he mentioned how his dream of becoming a successful tennis player was 'far-fetched' in his situation.
"I mean, that was already, you know, incredibly high ambition for someone coming from a family with no tennis tradition, for a boy in Serbia going through sanctions and embargo, war-torn country, and being part of the very expensive and unaffordable, unaccessible sport," he said.

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