‘Stop the Violence’: Serbian-Born Tennis Star Novak Djokovic Writes Anti-War Message on Camera Lens at French Open
Serbian-born tennis star Novak Djokovic used his platform at the French Open to oppose the conflict in his home country.
After defeating Aleksandar Kovacevic in the opening round of the tournament, Djokovic wrote an anti-war message on one of the camera lenses. It was then displayed on the court’s big screen.
“Kosovo is the (heart) of Serbia,” Djokovic wrote in Serbian. “Stop the violence.”
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 29, 2023
Kosovo has been embroiled in conflict since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has yet to recognize its sovereignty. According to a CNN report, tensions recently rose when ethnically-Albanian mayors took office in Northern Kosovo, sparking protests.
“This is the least I could have done,” Djokovic said after the match. “I feel the responsibility as a public figure – doesn’t matter in which field – to give support.
“Especially as a son of a man born in Kosovo, I feel the need to give my support to our people and to the entirety of Serbia. I don’t know, and I think many others don’t know, what the future brings for Kosovo and for Serbian people, but it’s necessary to show support and demonstrate unity in these kinds of situations. I don’t know what will happen.”
‘It’s the least I could have done’ – Novak Djokovic has defended his controversial message, written on a camera lens at the French Open, which claimed ‘Kosovo is the heart of Serbia’. pic.twitter.com/gfKuvQsPsV
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) May 30, 2023
Because of Djokovic’s rhetoric — including the phrase “entirety of Serbia” — it’s been widely assumed that he stands with Serbia in not recognizing Kosovo’s sovereignty. His message sparked outrage online, with one Twitter user even accusing him of racism.
“#Djokovic never fails to expose his national chauvinism, spoiling the sport of tennis with unparalleled inflammatory slogans,” they said. “@rolandgarros should disqualify him for using their tournament to promote racism.”
#Djokovic never fails to expose his national chauvinism, spoiling the sport of tennis with unparalleled inflammatory slogans. @rolandgarros should disqualify him for using their tournament to promote racism. #disqualifydjokovic pic.twitter.com/nUkCXSENoV
— Lekë Batalli (@LBatalli) May 29, 2023
— Arianit Beqiri (@ArianitBeqiri) May 29, 2023
Conspiracy theorist, vaccine denier, ethnic nationalist but hey he’s good at tennis! https://t.co/EjTL02DalJ
— Reg Pula (@RegPula) May 30, 2023
Being an instigator of nationalistic
far-right rhetoric, is far worse than being anti-vaccine moron that @DjokerNole is. @atptour should suspend him over this. But they won’t. Kosovo has legitimate right to exist. https://t.co/PzxMb2tQB3
— Andrew Taylor (@andrewtaylor19) May 29, 2023
This latest controversy comes just months after Djokovic was barred from competing in the U.S. due to his vaccination status.
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