Tennis World number 1, Novak Djokovic spent most of the year growing up with his widowed grandfather in a town more than four hours’ drive from Belgrade, because his parents spent most of their time away as they toiled to provide for their three sons – Novak been the eldest.
Novak Djokovic parents gave skiing lessons by day and served pizza in the restaurant they owned at night, working tirelessly to make ends meet while funding Novak’s burgeoning tennis career.
As Djokovic celebrated his 12th birthday in May 1999, a decade-long crisis was tearing the Southeastern Europe apart and Belgrade was a focal point, Nato bombed Serbia for 11 weeks in an effort to push Serbian forces out of Kosovo between March and June 1999.
Djokovic said “The basement is practically where we stayed. Everyone who could fit here they came, there was no limitation, we were waking up every single night at 2am or 3am for two and a half months because of the bombings,” he said of those 78 days in 1999.
Despite the unrest, Djokovic channeled his focus towards busy pursuing his dream of becoming world number one, he said “In a way these experiences made me a champion, it made us tougher, made us more hungry for success.”
The 15-time Grand Slam singles champion, who will hold all four major titles for the second time in his career if he wins the forthcoming 2019 French Open.