Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Relatives in Vinkovci, Connection with Croatia

Daniela Rogulj

May 11, 2019 – Novak Djokovic gave an exclusive interview for and IN Magazine in which he spoke about his relationship with Croatia.

The world’s best tennis player Novak Djokovic has made it to the semifinal of the very competitive ATP tournament in Madrid where he will play Dominic Thiem on Saturday. Unfortunately, Marin Čilić had to hand over the quarterfinal match to Djokovic thanks to a bad bout of food poisoning, leaving us without the Croatian-Serbian tennis derby. 

However, so much about the relationship between the Serbian tennis player and Croatia can be heard in an exclusive interview for and IN magazine. Djokovic spoke with Fani Stipković in Madrid about his family from Vinkovci, friendship with Croatian athletes and the natural beauties of Croatia.

“It is my pleasure to have the opportunity to speak in our language in a foreign country. It just does not happen often. Although there are successful tennis players from this area, Čilić, Borna, Mate Pavić, all champions, generally a lot of athletes from these areas, but there are not many media representatives. I hope there will be more of these interviews,” Djokovic said the beginning of the interview.

People in Croatia always find it interesting to hear that Novak’s mother’s side has roots from Croatia.

“She was born in Belgrade, but her parents come from Croatia. My grandmother and grandfather are from Vinkovci, and actually, all of my grandmother’s family comes from there, and I still have relatives there. I have not visited in a long time. The last time I was in Vinkovci was more than ten years ago. I even played some junior tournaments there, I remember. Then I met the family, and I did not really know how many family members I had. And aunts and uncles,” Djokovic said laughing and expressed a sincere desire to revisit his relatives in Croatia in the future.

In recent years, Djokovic has been a frequent guest of Croatia’s Adriatic. When asked what part he finds most beautiful, Djokovic said:

“The Islands, definitely. For me, but also for many, the Croatian coast is the most beautiful in the world. I’ve been to a lot of countries, but somehow you feel the most beautiful there; it is the same language, and for me, the same culture. It’s a jewel, a pearl of the Adriatic. I always feel nice there, the people always receive me well and I am always welcome. I will probably return this summer,” said Djokovic.

“That whole part from Dubrovnik up to the Kornati. Every part of the Croatian coast has some charm. Up in the North Brijuni… A few years ago, my family cruised from the south to the north. We had to do it all in ten days, but I have the feeling that if we could have stayed longer in one place, the feeling would have been different.”

Novak has always had good relationships with Croatian athletes and has always been a significant supporter of Croatia. He even received praise from the Croatian president after winning Wimbledon. 

“It is always nice to share a mutual respect with leading people from the world, but especially the region. I look at all of us as the same, so I behave, I try to be kind, polite to everyone. My family did not feel the horrors of war, but I understand those whose wounds are still fresh. They do not have to have the same attitude towards the neighbors that I have,” Djokovic said. 

“One cannot expect someone to forget something, but he can work on forgiveness, and that’s what I’m trying to do, to positively affect people,” he added to the sensitive topic of the relationship between the two countries.

During the 2018 World Cup, Djokovic was one of those people in Serbia who publicly supported the Croatia national team on their road to the final.

“The media often blow up stories too much. In some media, I was strongly condemned for supporting the Croatia national team, but I did not mind. I know a lot of things, and because of my name and influence, I can contribute to positive energy. Everyone is different, but it was logical to me. Who would I support if not Croatia? I feel they are mine too. I have that part in my family, so I always felt it. I respect that some people will be bothered by it, but let them also respect my choice,” Novak concluded. 

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page


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