Novak Djokovic woke up on Monday in Melbourne as a seven-time Australian Open champion. On Sunday, he lifted his 15th major trophy, passing his idol, Pete Sampras, for the third-most Grand Slam titles all-time.
Djokovic visited the Royal Botanical Gardens to celebrate his victory, and the Serbian had an interesting message for a young reporter who asked the World No. 1 for life advice.
“Most importantly, you should love what you do and always remind yourself that whatever you choose to do in life, in this case tennis, you go back to that pure emotion of why you started playing it and in the most difficult times, that’s where you draw your strength,” Djokovic said. “ Make sure you keep the smile on your face. And if you want to achieve yourself professionally, of course there is a long road ahead, lots of challenging moments in life. But most important is to believe in yourself and remind yourself of that love and passion for the game.”
Djokovic began playing tennis at four years old in southern Serbia. While he has two younger brothers — Djordje Djokovic and Marko Djokovic — who have earned ATP Rankings, the 31-year-old did not have tennis handed down to him through his family.
“Most importantly you should love what you do.”@ANZ_AU #TennisHotShots player Chloe Hodgeman gets some advice from our 7-time champion @DjokerNole. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/ZXRGyLajCb
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2019
“I fell in love with it and it was kind of like a sign of destiny for me to take the racquet,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t inherit any tradition… nobody had played tennis before in my family. I fell in love with the sport very early and I’ve dedicated myself fully to it. I just felt like that’s exactly what I wanted to do in life.”
Many of Djokovic’s relatives were professional skiers, and his father even played some football. So while the World No. 1 is quite happy where he is, he would have chosen to stay in sports if tennis was not an option when he was young.
“I would probably be skiing right now somewhere,” Djokovic said, cracking a laugh. “But I think in life everything happens for a reason, and tennis was meant to be for me.”