Biography

Novak Djokovic

Serbian Tennis Player
Novak Djokovic (Photo: Marianne Bevis)
Novak Djokovic (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Novak Djokovic is a Serbian tennis player. He won his first grand slam title in 2008 at the Australian Open and is widely considered to be one of the greatest male tennis players of all time.

Novak Djokovic

• Date of Birth: 22 May 1987
• Age: 35 years old
• Place of Birth: Belgrade, Serbia
• Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco
• Wife: Jelena Ristic (m. 2014)
• Country (Sports): Serbia
• Height: 188cm / 6ft 2ins
• Weight: 77kg / 170lbs
• Plays: Right-handed
• Turned Pro: 2003
• Career Prize Money: US$ $158,996,253
• Net Worth: £164m / $200m (2021)

• Instagram: @djokernole
• Twitter: @DjokerNole

The 35-year-old turned professional in 2003 and made an instant impact on the ATP Tour, winning his first pro title three years later in 2006 and breaking into the top 20 in the world rankings.

Djokovic first tasted grand slam glory at the 2008 Australian Open, when he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final to claim his first major crown.

The Serb has gone on to win a staggering total of 21 grand slam singles titles to place him as one of the most successful men’s players in the Open era.

His success on the court has earned him vast amounts of money, with Djokovic having pocketed upwards of $150m in prize money since having started his professional playing career.

So, what do we know about Novak’s journey to becoming the legendary tennis player he’s now known for being? This is his story.

Early Life, Parents And Upbringing

Novak Djokovic was born on 22 May 1987 in Belgrade, Serbia to parents Srdan and Dijana. He has two younger brothers named Marko and Djordje who have also played professional tennis.

Djokovic’s father, uncle and aunt were professional skiers, and his dad Srdan initially wanted Novak to be a skier or a footballer when he was younger.

Djokovic began playing tennis when he was just four years old and idolised Pete Sampras from a young age. When he was growing up, he sometimes lived with his grandfather Vlada in Belgrade while his parents worked at pizzeria they owned in Kopaonik.

“I fell in love with [tennis] when I was four,” Djokovic said in an interview in 2022. “My dad bought me a tennis racquet and they were making three tennis courts in front of the restaurant which was run by my parents in a mountain resort in Serbia. We used to spend a lot of time there.

A young Novak Djokovic

A young Novak Djokovic (centre) (Photo: @djokernole / Instagram)

“My dad, my uncle and my aunt, they were all competitive skiers. My father used to play soccer as well. There is an athletic gene that runs in the family, so it’s no accident that I ended up playing sport. But it is a little bit odd that I started played tennis, which was quite unknown in my family. But I think it was a sign of a destiny – three tennis courts being built when I started watching tennis on the TV.”

Djokovic says that he fell “in love” with the sport when he was around seven years old. “When I was seven, I dreamed of winning Wimbledon and being the best in the world,” Djokovic said in 2021. “I fell in love with tennis, and I’m trying to play with the same love and passion today.”

When he was 12 years old, Djokovic moved to Germany to train at the Niki Pilic Academy in Munich. He trained there for around two years before then returning to Belgrade.

Junior Career

Djokovic was a decent junior player and peaked at number 24 in the world rankings in February 2004.

He won two junior titles, both in 2002, and finished his junior career with a 56/12 win/loss record.

Novak Djokovic

A young Novak Djokovic (Photo: @djokernole / Instagram)

His best showing at a junior grand slam tournament came when he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2004.

Professional Career

Djokovic turned professional in 2003 and made his first appearance in the main draw of a grand slam at the 2005 Australian Open. He came through qualifying in Melbourne to reach the first round, where he lost to Marat Safin in straight sets.

He won his first grand slam main-draw match at the 2005 French Open. He came through three rounds of qualifying and beat Robby Ginepri of the USA in the first round, before falling to Guillermo Coria in round two.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Djokovic then reached the third round of Wimbledon shortly after, again coming through qualifying and beating Juan Monaco and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, before losing to Sebastien Grosjean of France in four sets.

Djokovic won his first ATP Tour title in 2006 at the Dutch Open in Amersfoort when he was 19 years old. He beat Nicolas Massu of Chile in the final to claim the trophy.

The Serb continued to make impressive progress – he claimed his first Masters title in Miami in 2007 – and his next major breakthrough came at the 2008 Australian Open.

Djokovic won his first grand slam singles title at the 2008 Australian Open. He beat the likes of Sam Querrey, Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Roger Federer to reach the final, where he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets, 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-2).

“I’m very, very happy that I won my first grand slam here,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I want to thank all the Serbian fans who came here to support me – I am so proud to be the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam title. You feel the expectations and pressure, so I’m very happy with the way I dealt with the pressure. Coming on against a player with nothing to lose – he was going for the shots and he was very dangerous, especially in the first set. I was pretty nervous.”

Novak Djokovic is defending champion at the Mutua Madrid Open (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Novak Djokovic (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

In the years that followed, Djokovic would go on to dominate the sport along with Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. His next grand slam title arrived in 2011 at the Australian Open, and he also won Wimbledon and the US Open for the first time in that same year.

Djokovic has gone on to win a total of 21 grand slam singles titles. His most successful major tournament is the Australian Open, where he has won a total of nine titles at the time of writing.

He first claimed the number one ranking in the world in July 2011, and has won the ATP World Tour Finals five times. Djokovic also won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (Photo: @djokernole / Instagram)

Novak Djokovic Net Worth, Prize Money And Earnings

As is usually the case with most sports stars and celebrities, there is no ‘official’ figure available for Novak Djokovic’s net worth. However, there are various estimates available that have been published online in recent years.

In 2021, British newspaper The Daily Star estimated that Djokovic’s net worth stood at around $200m (£164m). Meanwhile, website celebritynetworth.com estimated that the figure was closer to $220m (£182m).

Although it is tricky to find an exact figure for Novak Djokovic’s net worth, there are some numbers regarding the Serb’s earnings that we can be sure of. For example, we know for sure that at the time of writing, Djokovic has earned a total of $158,996,253 (£131.4m) in career prize money from playing tennis, combined for both singles and doubles, as the figure is recorded and published by the ATP.

Novak Djokovic

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Meanwhile, in 2021, Forbes estimated that Djokovic had earned a total of $34.5m (£28.5m) annually from tennis and his various sponsorship agreements. Of that figure, $4.5m (£3.7m) was said to have come from salary and prize money from tennis, while the remaining $30m ($24.8m) was believed to have come from sponsorships and endorsements.

Life Away From The Court

Djokovic began dating his wife Jelena Ristic in 2005 after having met her in High School. The couple became engaged in September 2013 and got married in July 2014. The couple have a son and a daughter together.

Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena Ristic

Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena Ristic (Photo: @jelenadjokovicndf / Instagram)

Djokovic, who adopted a gluten-free diet in 2011, is a football fan and supports Serbian club Red Star, Italian club AC Milan and Portuguese side Benfica.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Djokovic sparked controversy with his decision not to receive a Covid vaccine. In January 2022, he was deported from Australia after the government cancelled his visa in a row about his vaccine status. “I was never against vaccination,” Djokovic told BBC News in February 2022. “But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”

Novak Djokovic wife

Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena Ristic (Photo: @jelenadjokovicndf / Instagram)

Djokovic is multi-lingual and can speak Serbian, English, Italian, German and French.

What Have Others Said?

Nick Kyrgios, speaking after losing to Djokovic in the 2022 Wimbledon final: “He’s a bit of a god, I’m not going to lie. I thought I played well. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks for me personally. Really happy with this result, probably the best of my career and hopefully maybe one day I’ll be here again, but I don’t know about that.”

Daniil Medvedev, speaking after losing to Djokovic in he 2021 Australian Open final: “Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one. I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

Rafael Nadal, speaking after losing to Djokovic in the 2021 French open semi-finals: “That’s sport, you know. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I tried to give my best. Probably was not my best day out there. Even if I fought, that I put in a lot of effort, I mean, the position on the shots haven’t been that effective tonight. Against a player like him that takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then is very difficult. Well done to him. He beat me in a good fight out there. Today was not my day.”

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