The Serbian star won a seventh Wimbledon title at the weekend
Novak Djokovic was honored with a hero’s welcome as the tennis star returned to Serbia, being greeted by thousands of fans at celebrations in Belgrade to mark his latest Wimbledon title.
Djokovic wrapped up a fourth successive Wimbledon crown – and seventh in total – with a four-set victory over Australian challenger Nick Kyrgios on Sunday.
The Grand Slam title was a 21st overall for Djokovic, moving him to within one of generational rival Rafael Nadal’s record all-time tally.
The Wimbledon success was all the sweeter for Djokovic considering he was prevented from defending his Australian Open title at the opening Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne when he was deported in a row over his Covid vaccine status.
The 35-year-old was forced to watch on as Nadal triumphed Down Under, before the Spaniard captured a 14th French Open title in June, defeating Djokovic along the way.
But at Wimbledon the glory was again Djokovic’s as the Serb recaptured some sensational form and Nadal was forced out injured.
On Monday in Belgrade, thousands of Djokovic fans gathered outside City Hall to enjoy celebrations which included a concert and fireworks display.
Novak Djokovic’s triumphant return in Belgradepic.twitter.com/W4wOvnFi3o
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Djokovic emerged onto a balcony to a rapturous reception, parading his gilded Wimbledon trophy and playfully tossing tennis balls into the crowd.
Fans held signs proclaiming Djokovic the GOAT – greatest of all time – and chanted the star’s ‘Nole!’ nickname in unison.
— Sport Klub (@sportklub) July 11, 2022
— Milica Milutinovic (@MilicaM84932667) July 12, 2022
As a national hero, Djokovic is used to being feted in his homeland for his remarkable achievements.
Throughout his Australian deportation earlier this year Djokovic was given fervent support back in Serbia, including at diplomatic level from the likes of President Aleksandar Vucic.
Wimbledon could well be the last Grand Slam of the year to feature Djokovic, with his unvaccinated status set to prevent him from being allowed entry into America for the US Open at the end of August.
Beyond that, the 2023 Australian Open in January remains uncertain, with the country typically imposing a three-year ban on visa applications for anyone who has been deported.
However, the UK’s Daily Mail reported this week that the new Australian government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could step in to resolve that situation, potentially paving the way for Djokovic to play.
Speaking to Serbian broadcaster RTS on Monday, Djokovic signaled he was not optimistic about making New York in just over six weeks’ time but believed things could change regarding Melbourne, where he is a record nine-time champion.
“As things stand now, I cannot travel to Australia and the United States, but I am hoping to get positive news,” Djokovic said.
“I believe things will change for Australian Open. For the US Open there is not much time, but hope dies last. I would like to play at the US Open and Australia Open, but even if I do not, it’s not the end of the world.”
Djokovic reiterated after his Wimbledon win that he was not willing to get vaccinated against Covid-19 just to be allowed to compete at certain tournaments.