Novak Djokovic may be coming off a loss at the French Open earlier this year, but he’s still got one of the strongest support systems in all of tennis.
The world No. 1 comes from a long-line of tennis standouts and actually learned the sport at his parent’s sports complex in Serbia. Add into the mix two pro brothers and the Djokovic family has had a tennis racket in its collective hands for more than 30 years. Djokovic’s home life is just as ideal. He married childhood sweetheart Jelena Ristic last year and the two welcomed their first child not long after. In fact, Djokovic has recently added diaper changing to his long list of world-class talents.
Now, as Djokovic looks to repeat as Wimbledon champion, the odds-on-favorite will, undoubtedly, be flanked by his family on and off the court. Here’s what you need to know about the group:
1. Djokovic & Jelena Ristic Were Married in July 2014
After meeting as teenagers and dating for years, Djokovic and Jelena Ristic were married in July 2014, just days after he won his second Wimbledon title. The two were married on the grounds of the Aman Sveti Stefan resort in Montenegro.
Djokovic told Hello:
Seeing her for the first time in her wedding dress, smiling and walking towards me… She looked like an angel. I was trying to be present in that moment and memorise it. I was focused on her, and her smile, and our baby. It really was a perfect moment.
2. The Pair Welcomed Their First Child in October 2014
The pair announced their impending parenthood on Djokovic’s Twitter last spring and welcomed their first child, a sdron named Stefan, in October 2014.
Djokovic’s official website described Stefan as a “wonderful, healthy and lovely boy” and the world’s top tennis player took several days off before competing at the ATP Masters tournament in Paris.
3. Jelena is the Director of the Novak Djockovic Foundation
Djokovic and his wife first created the Novak Djokovic Foundation to aid disadvantaged children in Serbia and help them obtain an education. According to the Foundation’s website, Serbia has the world’s lowest participation in preschool education and over 2,5000 locations where there are no preschools. The Foundation, and Jelena, are working to change that.
The Foundation was founded in 2007 and Jelena acts as Chief Executive Officer. She was honored for her charity work in May 2014. Jelena discussed the Foundation and the work it does with Net Talk Tennis:
We hope to open a lot of kindergartens for children so every child can have a safe place to grow up, play and learn. We hope to open more opportunities for people so they don’t always lean to migrate to big cities and also support local non-governmental organisations in their work by funding their programs. We have this young energy and belief that we can do impossible things
She also holds a PhD in management and has worked as a branding and communications consultant.
4. Djokovic’s Parents – Srdjan & Dijana – Owned Family Sports, Where he Learned to Play Tennis
Djokovic didn’t simply stumble into his athletic talent. His parents, Srdjan and Dijana were both standout athletes themselves and even owned the company Family Sports, which boasted a trio of restaurants as well as a tennis academy where Djokovic first learned how to play the game that would shape his entire life. It was on those courts that Djokovic, just six years old in the summer of 1993, was seen by Yugoslavian tennis legend Jelena Genic.
While Djokovic got his start on the grounds of his parent’s business, those same parents have, sometimes, made headlines of their own with their comments and criticisms. In 2013, Djokovic apologized for his father’s comments after Srdjan told the newspaper Kurir:
Federer is perhaps still the best tennis player in history, but as a man he’s the opposite. He attacked Novak at the Davis Cup in Geneva (in 2006), he realized that he was his successor and was trying to disparage him in every way. Novak’s success is an amazing thing and something that Federer cannot understand.
Srdjan also added that Djokovic was no longer friends with Rafael Nadal, saying that he was only “his best friend while he was winning.”
5. His Brothers, Marko & Djordje, Are Also Pro Tennis Players
Tennis must run in the Djokovic family. All three sons – Novak and his younger brothers Marko and Djordje – are professional tennis players. But it hasn’t been simply roses and grand slams for the trio. In fact, for the younger Djokovic’s it has been a bit of a fight to get out of their brother’s, immense, shadow.
Djordje Djokovic told Tennis.com:
The other players see my name, but it makes them even more determined. I’m trying to deal with this as best as I can but it makes my job even tougher. On court it feels like they have far more will to win compared to when I watch them play other players.
Marko, who turned pro in 2007, and Djordje also both attended Croatian ex-pro Niki Pilic’s tennis academy outside of Munich. It was the same school that Djokovic, at 12 years old, fine-tuned his game.