Currently ranked world no. 1, Novak Djokovic scripted history in the recently concluded US Open 2023, defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final at the Flushing Meadows in New York. He clinched his fourth US Open title and in doing so he matched Margaret Court’s tally of 24 Grand Slam titles, which is an all-time record of major singles titles by either sex.
He also became the oldest US Open men’s singles champion in the Open Era, at 36 years and 111 days, and became the first man to win three Grand Slams in a season four times.
Despite being considered as the greatest tennis player of all time, Djokovic has always had his section of critics, and has also never been as popular or loved as Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. 2013 Wimbledon women’s champion Marion Bartoli feels that Djokovic faces such an issue because ‘he is Serbian’.
Speaking to RMC, she said, “Of course it’s not just the fact that he is Serbian. We know very well that if Novak was American, he’d have a statue in every city. The fact that he is Serbian means that he is not as publicized. Coming from a small Eastern European country, with a recent painful past, affects one’s popularity rating.”
Meanwhile, even Djokovic believes that if he wasn’t from Serbia, his popularity would have been different. After the US Open final, he said, “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. 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 is the only man in tennis history to be the reigning champion of all four majors at once across three different surfaces. In singles, he is the only man to achieve a triple Career Grand Slam, and the only player to complete a career Golden Masters, which he has achieved twice.