Djokovic and the years of rising from bombs
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Djokovic and the years of rising from bombs

The house where Djokovic lived with his grandfather during his childhood years.

Seen from the street, the exterior of the building resembles every other apartment complex scattered around Belgrade.

Here, Novak took refuge during the days when NATO bombed the Serbian capital from March to June 1999.

Djokovic’s 12th birthday, on this day in May 1999, also began a decade-long crisis that tore through the Balkans, with Belgrade becoming the epicenter.

`When the alarm bell rang and heard the whistling sound of the plane, no one knew where the bombs and bullets would fall,` Djordjo Milenic – a friend of Djokovic’s grandfather – recalled.

According to neighbors, no one lives in that apartment anymore.

This is where Novak Djokovic’s story of rising from the ruins to becoming the great tennis player he is today – who owns 15 Grand Slam titles, will win for the second time in his career.

Djokovic and the years of rising from bombs

number 6 – Djokovic’s grandfather’s apartment;

Djokovic lived in that apartment with his grandfather, because his grandmother had passed away and his parents were struggling to raise their three sons.

They spend most of their time in Kopaonik, a mountain resort near Kosovo more than four hours’ drive from Belgrade.

Not wanting to disrupt their children’s education, their parents sent the three Novak brothers to stay with their grandfather Vlada.

There are many people in the Banjica area who know the Djokovic family.

Djokovic and the years of rising from bombs

The bomb destroyed part of the Yugoslav Ministry of Defense building in the center of Belgrade on April 30, 1999 and remains intact to this day.

Of course, no temptation affected Djokovic, a child who often watched TV and dreamed of winning Wimbledon one day.

Bogdan Obradovic, a talented young tennis player who became a coach at the age of 18, has been entrusted by Mr. Srdjan to teach Djokovic since he was 10 years old.

`Novak’s father and I had a few mutual friends, and they told him that I was a suitable coach to train him,` Bogdan Obradovic recalled.

During the bombing days, Obradovic took his students all over Belgrade to practice because they did not have to pay for field rental.

Djokovic often practices at Partizan Tennis Club, which has a 27-time national championship soccer team and also has basketball, water polo and volleyball teams.

On the club’s wall there are still traditional photos of alumni.

In Banjica, on the wall behind the apartment is a picture of Djokovic standing between his grandfather on one side and his childhood coach, Jelena Gencic, on the other.

Djokovic and the years of rising from bombs

Painting on the wall outside Djokovic’s family apartment during the 1999 Belgrade bombing.

Sasa Ozmo, a journalist for Sport Klub, described Djokovic as a national hero who deeply understands his responsibility in  promoting the country’s image to the world.

In a recent poll, Djokovic ranked first in terms of role models most admired by Serbian youth.

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