Djokovic shares harrowing details of childhood that influenced career

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Novak Djokovic has lifted the lid on his tough childhood in Serbia and how it inspired his career following his historic 10th Australian Open win which allowed him to tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 22 men’s singles Grand Slam titles. The world No 1 opened up on what it was like to grow up through two wars and how it influenced him to start his own foundation.

Djokovic continued to rewrite history on Sunday as he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) to win his 10th Aussie Open crown and 22nd Grand Slam title, also returning to the No 1 ranking as a result. The 35-year-old faced adversity throughout his run to the title as he battled a hamstring injury while his dad was also embroiled in controversy after posing alongside pro-Putin protesters.

And the Serb has now explained the driving force behind his success as he opened up on his tough childhood, recalling when his family would queue from 5am for milk and bread. “I don’t do it for publicity, but because I want to help and I want to be there for the less fortunate people,” Djokovic said of his foundation, speaking to Sony Sports Network.

“I come from Serbia in the 90s, and there I have lived through two wars and an embargo for six years. Also, no Serbian athlete was allowed to leave the country to compete abroad for four years.”

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The world No 1 also revealed that his family needed aid when he was younger, continuing: “When I was a child in Serbia, every morning at five in the morning we had to wait in line to get bread and milk for my grandfather and hundreds of other people, so we would put bread on the table for a family of five or six members to eat every day.

“I know how it feels. I am thankful for everything I have and everything I have been blessed with, and everything God has given me I appreciate and respect very much.”

Explaining why his foundation was so important to him, he added: “That is why I am aware that in the world there are people less fortunate than me and, through my Foundation, I try to help people as much as possible. I know that it is not enough and that I can give more, but I always do my best.”

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Djokovic also brought up his experience of the war during his Australian Open run after protesters uploaded a video of his dad Srdjan standing alongside them as they held Putin-clad Russia fans which were banned from the tournament grounds.

“My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during ’90s. As my father put in a statement, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war,” he said.

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