‘If I wasn’t from Serbia, I’d have been glorified on a sporting level many years ago’ – Novak Djokovic

Ewan West
Novak Djokovic 2023 US Open
Novak Djokovic after the 2023 US Open final

Novak Djokovic has claimed that if he was not from Serbia, he would have been “glorified on a sporting level” many years ago, “especially” in the western world.

The 36-year-old stressed, though, he is “grateful and proud” to be Serbian and that it makes his accomplishments “sweeter and even more fulfilling.”

Djokovic downed world No 3 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win the 2023 US Open on Sunday – his fourth triumph at the hard-court major in New York.

The world No 1 has now won 24 Grand Slam singles titles – two more than his great rival Rafael Nadal who sits second on the all-time men’s major list.

The 96-time ATP tournament winner led Serbia to win the Davis Cup for the only time in the country’s history in 2010.

Speaking to the Serbian media following his US Open final victory, Djokovic was asked if he could be the best athlete ever in any sport.

“I leave that to you guys and all the others, whether I deserve to be a part of that debate. 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,” said the 36-year-old.

“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.”

Djokovic also looked back on his remarkable journey and the challenges he and his family faced during his childhood in a war-torn country.

“The odds were pretty much against me and my family, but, you know, we did it. I say ‘We,’ because I owe a lot to my family, to my parents, who sacrificed so much for me to be here. And that’s not a cliché. I really mean it,” reflected the Serbian in his post-match press conference.

“It was extremely, extremely difficult with lots of adversities that they had to face and atrocities that when you think about it, you know, the last thing you want to think about is supporting maybe your child in expensive sport. It was more about bringing the bread to the kitchen table, you know, at that point.

“So reflecting on the whole journey, it’s been an incredible, incredible ride that we all can be very proud of. This kind of upbringing, really, and experiences I had in childhood really allows me to appreciate this moment or any other moments that I experienced, big moments in my career in the history of this sport.”

READ MORE: John McEnroe lauds ‘one in a billion’ Novak Djokovic after US Open triumph