I had to write about Novak Djokovic for an assignment and in so doing dug up the story of his rise to tennis stardom.Like many against-all-odds type stories, it gave me goosebumps and re-ignited the desire to follow my dreams relentlessly. Sometimes you truly don't know what people have overcome to be where they are.
At the tender age of 7, an innocent but confident Novak Djokovic said during a television interview that his ultimate goal was to become the number one tennis player in the world.
Three years later, the odds of realizing that dream would become severely stacked against him when bombs rained in his hometown of Belgrade, Serbia, displacing him and his family. On that fateful night of March of 1999, Djokovic recounts how they had to flee to a bomb shelter in the middle of the night when NATO launched airstrikes in the capital of Serbia. His only goal was to protect his two younger brothers
At one point while running in the dark, he fell face down and the bombs falling around him were so vivid that he's still scared of loud noises to this day.
Novak started playing tennis at the age of four by mere chance after he caught a glimpse of the game on TV. He quickly fell in love with the sport and begun rushing home from school to finish his homework then practice into the night. With the war, it became more and more difficult to maintain this routine as his family and twenty other families lived in a bomb shelter where electricity was present for only a few hours a day.
He fought through the uncertainty and continued to practice with a top-ranked tennis coach who had spotted his talent at the age of six. His coach picked the practice areas based on where bombs had not fallen.
Four months after the NATO military operation ended, Novak moved to Germany to train in an elite tennis school.
Today, the boy from war-torn country is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time alongside greats like Roger Feder, Nadal, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. The now 32-year old Serbian has won a record 16 grand-slams and is currently ranked world #1 in men’s singles tennis by the ATP
I hope this story ignites your fire like it did mine