NEW YORK: Global tennis star, Novak Djokovic, spoke out on Sunday against US plans to carry out strikes against Syria.
Djokovic, who grew up in Belgrade as Nato air strikes blasted the Serbian capital in 1999, said that the attack would be ill-advised with major repercussions.
While most athletes usually refrain from commenting upon world politics and international relations; two sport stars defy convention. Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic recently opened up about their experiences in war-torn Serbia.
Both stars vividly recall hiding during Nato attacks that were launched against the rule of Serb hardman leader, Slobodan Milosevic
After winning the third round of US open, Djokovic walked down memory lane when he told reporters about the attacks Nato forces carried out on Serbia.
"I'm totally against any kind of weapon, any kind of air strike or missile attack,” said Djokovic. He added that he is “totally against anything that is destructive” because of his personal experience.
“I know it cannot bring any good to anybody," said Djokovic.
While he was only 12-years-old when Nato forces began attacking Serbia, Djokovic confessed that that particular time in Serbia that he and his friends have been through is something they do not want anybody else to experience.
He also called war “the worst thing for humanity”, stressing that “nobody really wins”.
Though he cannot remember many details about those horrific childhood years from the war, the six-time Grand Slam title winner said he remembered having a lot of spare time for tennis because they could not go to school.
He talked of how they spent two whole months playing tennis, while Nato jets flew overhead. After a continuous two weeks of bombing, the planes became a norm and they were able to move on with their lives.
“It was not in our control. We were helpless, basically.”
Ana Ivanovic, a former women’s number one, has also recalled her experiences while living during the 78-day bombing campaign.
“I clearly remember playing on the tennis court when the air strikes first started. People came up to me and told me to go home; they said it would be safer if I stopped practicing,” said the past French Open champion.
She recalled how she and her friends were forced to play tennis in a derelict pool during the air raids. She said they put a carpet inside and made two tennis courts.
Djokovic summed up their experience by saying, “Luckily, we all survived and take this situation from our past as a great lesson in life.”