WATCH: ‘Lazy’ Novak Djokovic partners with Hollywood A-lister Charlize Theron for incredible gesture

Shahida Jacobs
A relaxed Novak Djokovic during a match
Novak Djokovic reacts during his tennis match

Those who attended the 20th Anniversary Charity Celebrity Tennis Event in California received a surprise treat on Tuesday as tennis great Novak Djokovic was a last-minute addition to the event.

Dubbed the “charity celebrity tennis event where Hollywood and professional tennis collide”, the big match at this year’s event was scheduled to feature South African-born actress Charlize Theron and tennis star Frances Tiafoe against former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and Nigerian-American Yvonne Orji.

However, there was a nice surprise for those at the La Quinta Resort & Club as 22-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic temporarily took the place of Tiafoe – who also played a singles match against Casper Ruud – after accepting a late call-up to the event.

“Sorry man, I think I’ll take over,” Djokovic told Tiafoe.

And Theron didn’t hold back when it came to shouting at her new partner as at one point she yelled “Let’s go, you lazy bastard!” according to the Desert Sun.

No one is quite sure who won the match, but it was all in aid of charity and Djokovic was all too happy to be part of the event to support the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP).

Afterwards, the world No 1 admitted that his doubles partner made him do a lot of running, but it was for a good cause.

“We [the Desert Smash and I] go back 15 years, maybe even more, and time flies so it is a great honour to be here to support Charlize and her foundation,” he revealed.

“She made me work today, she made me run but that was part of the strategy.”

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Desert Smash Founder and Executive Producer Ryan Macaulay also revealed earlier that Djokovic was desperate to play as he attended the event for the first time in a decade.

“He has been really wanting to come today and last week we did not think this was going to happen,” Macaulay told those in attendance.

“We got a call from his team this morning and he said, ‘Listen if we do this it will be about 10 minutes and we need to be on the court at 4:55.”

Djokovic’s next assignment will be the 2024 Indian Wells Open as he will play at the ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2019. The Serbian missed the last few editions due to his unvaccinated status.

The top seed will face either qualifier Shintaro Mochizuki or Alexander Vukic in the second round on Friday.