Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 03 March |
Saint of the Day: St. Katharine Drexel
home iconNews
line break icon

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic: “Before I am an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian”

NOVAK DJOKOVIC

ANDREJ ISAKOVIC | POOL | AFP

Louis du Bosnet - published on 01/20/18

If we had to make a list of top athletes whose generosity is beyond question, then Novak Djokovic's name would certainly be on it.

This article was updated on Monday, July 15, 2019.

At 33 years of age, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has won his fifth Wimbledon title, and 16th Grand Slam win, beating Roger Federer in a grueling match, just 3 minutes shy of five hours long. It’s a safe bet that this man, who dominated the world tennis elite for so long, was able to find the energy he needed for this latest feather in his cap thanks to his regular Bible reading.

“Before I am an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian”

The number 1 tennis player in the world is an Orthodox Christian, and he does not hesitate to say it publicly. It is not uncommon to observe Novak Djokovic invoking Christ during a meeting or wearing a cross around his neck to witness to his faith. For him, his religious beliefs come before his 68 titles, including 12 Grand Slam tournaments earned since the beginning of his career.

“This is the most important title of my life, because before being an athlete, I am an Orthodox Christian,” he said in April 2011, when he received the order of St. Sava in the first degree from the hands of Irenaeus, the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The order of St. Sava is the highest distinction in the Serbian Orthodox Church, and it was given to him especially for having contributed financially to the renovation of religious buildings in his native land, Serbia.

He finances a free restaurant for the poorest

A multi-millionaire thanks to his tournament winnings and numerous advertising contracts, Novak Djokovic willingly puts his fortune at the service of the underprivileged and helps causes that are dear to him. Judge for yourself. Last December, the Novak Djokovic Foundation, of which he is one of the main benefactors, contributed 94,000 euros for the renovation of a school in Pozega (Serbia).

In October of 2017, the tennis player announced the opening of a restaurant in Serbia offering free food to the homeless and the poor. “Money is not a problem for me. I have earned enough to feed all of Serbia. I think they deserve it after the support I received from them,” he said in a statement released at the time.

The fate of the children of his country (where the minimum wage is set at less than 200 euros per month) particularly captures Novak Djokovic’s charitable attention. That is why, in 2015, his foundation joined forces with the World Bank to provide young Serbs with access to schooling and care. Welcoming his generosity, UNICEF rightly appointed him Goodwill Ambassador to Serbia in August 2015.

“Novak Djokovic is a true champion for children around the world. He shows that powerful voices and actions can make a difference for children, especially for the youngest,” said Yoka Brandt, deputy director of UNICEF.


NOVAK DJOKOVIC

Read more:
Novak Djokovic to the rescue of a chapel in Nice, France

An example for children around the world … and his family

As a faithful Christian who lived out his childhood in a country rife with violent conflict — the war between Bosnia and Herzegovina lasted from 1992 to 1995 — Novak Djokovic has never lost sight of his roots. And this is surely welcomed by his wife Jelena, whom he began dating in 2005, when they attended the same high school in Belgrade. They made their marriage vows before God in July 2014, and their two children are named Stefan (3 years old) and Tara (4 months old). We can imagine their home life will be an excellent school to learn not only tennis, but also generosity.

This article was first published in the French edition on Aleteia.

Tags:
CharitySports
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Jacques Fesch
Brother Silas Henderson, SDS
Meet the Death Row prisoner who discovered a ...
2
SEARCHNG PURSE
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things every Catholic woman should have in her purse
3
MADONNA
V. M. Traverso
The 9 oldest images of Mary
4
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
5
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
6
CELEBRITY MARRIAGES
Cerith Gardiner
10 Celebrities whose marriages have stood the test of time
7
Gelsomino Del Guercio
7 Sanctuaries linked by a straight line: The legendary Sword of S...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.