22-time Grand Slam singles champion, Novak Djokovic, has reacted to his controversial “political message” about Kosovo at the French Open, saying he was “against wars, violence and any kind of conflict”.
After Novak Djokovic beat American tennis star, Aleksandar Kovacevic in his first game at the 2023 French Open on Monday, May 29, the Serbian tennis star whose father is from Kosovo went in front of a camera to make a political statement.
The statement read: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence”.
This statement has generated uproar across the tennis world because it is perceived that Novak Djokovic is supporting the oppression of Kosovo by the Serbian government.
Kosovo was part of Serbia but the state has declared independence from the Serbian government since 2008. However, the Serbian government has refused to recognize the independence of the state which has sparked ceaseless violence in the region.
After Djokovic’s political comment, Kosovo Olympic authorities asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to open disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian tennis star, accusing him of stirring up political tension.
President of Kosovo’s Olympic Committee, Ismet Krasniqi said, “Novak Djokovic has yet again promoted the Serbian nationalists’ propaganda and used the sports platform to do so.”
Also, Tennis Federation of Kosovo which described Djokovic’s comment as a call for more violence between the two countries, urged the French Open to disqualify the tennis icon from the ongoing Grand Slam.
However, the organizers of the French Open, the French Tennis Federation, insisted via a statement that Djokovic didn’t break any rule as there are no restrictions to what tennis players should say during the French Open.
Novak Djokovic React
Ahead of his 2023 French Open second-round game against Hungarian tennis star, Márton Fucsovics, Novak Djokovic told Serbian journalists that the situation in Kosovo is a “precedent in international law”.
He added, “Especially as a son of a man born in Kosovo, I feel the need to give my support to our people and the entirety of Serbia.
“Kosovo is our cradle, our stronghold, the center of the most important things for our country. There are many reasons why I wrote that on the camera.
“Of course, it hurts me very much as a Serb to see what is happening in Kosovo and the way our people have been practically expelled from the municipal offices, so the least I could do was this.”
Novak Djokovic’s French Open second-round game against Fucsovics will start at 7:15 PM WAT.