Novak Djokovic hopes that the war in Ukraine ‘ends tomorrow’ as he recalled his experience of growing up as a child of war. The 36-year-old grew up during the Yugoslavian civil war and suffered through the NATO bombing of Belgrade and admits the effects of the conflict still have an impact on him today.
Djokovic is one of the most successful male players in tennis history having claimed 22 Grand Slam titles over the course of his career. He is regarded by some to be the greatest player to have picked up a tennis racket after years of directly challenging Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer for trophies.
However, Djokovic has not had an easy life and suffered a particularly difficult upbringing due to the conflict in Yugoslavia during the 1990s. As a result, Russia’s war in Ukraine brings up painful memories for the 36-year-old as he discussed his thoughts on the situation.
“The only thing I can say, as a child of war, is this: in war no one wins,” Djokovic told Italian publication Corriere Della Sera. “War is the ugliest thing in life, man’s worst invention, the worst idea in history. I have seen two wars, the civil one in Yugoslavia and the NATO bombing of Belgrade, I have seen the suffering of my family, and the poverty of my country.
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“War is much bigger than us, you can only pray to God to end it tomorrow. Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine is slow, and every day it becomes more devastating. There are cities destroyed, lives cut short, but there are also damages that cannot be seen, which will last over time.
“I read an article on the effects of war traumas: they affect health, especially digestion. I had problems with the microbiome, and my career only took off when I discovered my intolerance to gluten and dairy products, which may be related to the war.
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“But the worst thing of course is losing a loved one and war opens a void in every family. That’s why I can’t support any war against any country.”
Djokovic’s attention in the coming days will switch to the French Open as he seeks to win in Roland Garros for the third time and claim his 23rd major title.
He will face American star Aleksandar Kovacevic in the first round while he could face fellow favourite Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals with both men named on the same side of the draw.
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