At just 28, and with 10 Grand Slams under his belt, there’s a feeling that Novak Djokovic is just getting started.
Described by John McEnroe as “the greatest returner of serve in the history of the men’s game”, Novak has already left an indelible mark on the world of tennis, and he’s only just reaching his prime.
In one of the great eras of men’s tennis, perhaps Novak’s greatest achievement has been breaking up the dominance of Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal. In the four years prior to 2011, they won fourteen of the sixteen Grand Slams available. In the four years since, Novak has won nine, while Federer and Nadal have won just six between them.
A part of Novak’s success has been his passion and determination, which in 2010 drove him to change his diet after he was diagnosed with severe food allergies that had been sapping his strength on court.
This change, coupled with his renewed focus, saw Nadal described Djokovic’s performances as “probably the highest level of tennis I ever saw”.
“I would love people to remember me for who I am as a person not as a player”
Perhaps more remarkable than Novak’s on-court efforts are his endeavors outside the tennis world. He has said that his aim is “to use the success that I’ve had to make other people’s live better”. And he has been true to that.
He has applied the same passion in tennis since 2007 to the Novak Djokovic Foundation, helping underprivileged children in Serbia overcome adversity and challenges to pre-school education and access to tennis. As a result of his advocacy and considerable fundraising efforts, Novak has been named a UN Goodwill Ambassador and received of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award.
Novak has fought his way to the top of the tennis world, and has changed the lives of countless young people. He says “I would love people to remember me for who I am as a person not as a player”.
Well, it’s just possible that we’ll remember him for both.