We feel as if we all helped Novak Djokovic become the legendary sports hero, in spite Federer and 15,000 bitter opponents.
We feel as if we did, but we didn’t. He did it all by himself. It’s not a national triumph. Aside from cheering for him, identifying with him, and falling into cardiac arrest over him on several occasions, we didn’t have anything to do with that triumph. Not a single thing. Not the government, not the state, not the nation. Not the minister of sports, not the caricature at the head of our state. Not the tabloids, with their constant litigating about who cheered Djokovic the most and why that maladjusted Australian doesn’t like him. Why the audience is the way it is, and why the hell they like Federer so much.
But, still, it was a remarkable and anthological afternoon of sports. The drama that shook us and got us questioning the point and pointlessness of sports, and any other battle. And, in that, we really wanted to feel his victory, which seemed far and uncertain for too long, as if it were our own. And no one can blame us for longing for this one victory in an endless sea of defeats.
Those five traumatic hours of tennis was so important because there are no other victories. Not for the nation, because the nation doesn’t have anything to do with this, but for each of us, who, willingly or not, is managing to project themselves onto anyone who is greater, or the greatest. It’s an illusion realized only in a loser’s dream, because, once it bursts and Wimbledon is forgotten, we return to our pathetic lives, which the triumphant burst of light of one of us only leaves all the darker.
But this is not a story about tennis. That match is a story about an epic battle which can only be won by the stronger, and not necessarily the better, man. So, the better man, after all! It’s about the sportsmanship and grace of the winner, who did not let the triumph get the best of him. He didn’t complain about the audience or say to his opponent: You suck, Roger, I kicked your ass and sent you to an early retirement!
You think that wasn’t a possibility? Of course it was, but not in this case. Imagine the situation if Mr. Novak Djokovic had the attitude and manners of the president of the country he was born in. Would he not, then, say something like: “Federer is a pathetic, washed up tennis player whose time is over. I don’t fear him, I despise him. He should be ashamed of himself. He’s had the support of the entire tennis mafia, the western powers, and that hooligan Kyrgios. But I will rule tennis for as long as I want!” Or to the audience: “That handful of scumbags gathered here, paid by western money, thought that I would be scared of their shouts and threats. But I fear nothing! And I will say to those pathetic losers that each shout makes me stronger and that I will win. I’ve seen those pathetic losers from my window and I know that they can’t hurt me!”
Similar statements would be made by all his cronies, competing to say the meanest things about every opponent. Cruel tongues and shallow minds are the practiced and seductive manner of public intercourse between the government and the plebs here.
Of course, we would be mortified if Novak said that. But when our dear Supreme Leader says it, we don’t care. It’s who he is – a rootless hooligan, Seselj’s apprentice. He is beyond repair.
Now do you understand why Novak Djokovic is not one of us? He said that Federer inspires him and that he, too, would want to remain active in tennis at least until he’s 37. That he respects him and that he’s honored to get to play in his era. He didn’t complain about the audience or say anything about their loud and unsportsmanlike cheering. He was a real gentleman before those who think that they’ve always been. And he showed, once again, the meaning and point of self-respect.
At age 32, Novak is already an icon of fair play and a personification of his winning sports philosophy. A champion of decency in the purest form. But, it’s not only about sports, nor merely the upbringing of a boy whose lifestyle is so inconsistent with the endemic national arrogance and dull narcissistic disdain. It is a kind of essence, a set of traits that secures an eternal place in history for its holder.
The question seems simple: why aren’t the very important fools leading our country learning from him? But that’s neither possible, nor would they want to. They can survive in this dump only by being the way they are.
Djokovic managed to resist the aggressive national-chauvinistic front, by demonstrating how disgusting and claustrophobic he finds it and that his cosmopolitism is out of line with the comical, yet dangerous Serbian nationalist strutting. With this, he found himself in the line of fire of fascist right wing organizations, which attacked him for being friendly with Croatian sportsmen. They particularly didn’t like his cheering for their football team in the world championship.
A certain Djuka, keen to give our leader his chauvinistic aid, cast the final anathema by calling Djokovic (certainly in our leader’s name) an idiot and a psychopath. He’s a lost cause, that was the conclusion of Djuka’s fight against Novak’s version of autochauvinism, that ludicrous neologism spawned by the chicken-brained intellectuals of the Serbian Nazi right. But, it caught on with Djukanovic and his fellow keepers of the pure blood.
Dragan Vasiljkovic, better known as Captain Dragan, spoke out from some Croatian prison and said that, by cheering for Croatia, Novak betrayed Serbia and the Serbs, and all the victims of the Croatian pogrom against the Serbs.
Novak never paid attention to these disgusting secretions, although such defamations must have been hard to ignore. He refused to acknowledge Djuka and Vasiljkovic, showing them that their shallow-minded absurdities are unworthy of a response.
Djokovic has earned a lot of money and is living above the dreams of any common man. But that is his achievement alone, and his price on the market in which he is a top-tier star.
I honestly believe that he won’t accept the honor of being introduced to the court someday. He doesn’t belong to the government, nor does he find that kind of power thrilling. When a man speaks with kings as equals, what would he have to talk about with lowlifes like that?
It’s unlikely that he would follow the path of his uncle, Zoran Terzic, an excellent volleyball trainer, who said to Vucic after winning the world championship: “This medal is for you, we felt your presence on the court in every game!” This kind of sycophancy to the leader as the seventh player responsible for the title, was truly appalling to look at.
Disgusted at this behavior from their beloved trainer, some players started refusing invitations for the national team. Terzic threatened that they would lose national pensions if they quit.
The best tennis player doesn’t need additional, spectral players on the court to be who he is.
At Wimbledon court last week, Mr. Novak Djokovic faced his opponent alone, just like he always does.
Translated by Marijana Simic