(Paris) A new departure from the frame and a new controversy: Novak Djokovic’s sentence after his match at Roland-Garros on Monday about Kosovo, “the heart of Serbia”, once again fuels the image of this player outside norm, master in the art of controversy.
The quest for his 23rd Grand Slam on the Parisian ocher, a title which would represent one of the greatest feats in the history of sport, has not extinguished this provocative fire which characterizes the Serb, with a career studded with controversy , misunderstandings, missteps and misunderstandings.
After his match won Monday against the American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), the Serb, armed with his marker, wrote a few words in Cyrillic on the camera of the court Philippe- Chatter.
Words as a political message: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia!” Stop the violence. This exit from the world No.3 comes as northern Kosovo has been the scene for several days of clashes between members of the international force led by NATO (KFOR) and Serbian demonstrators demanding the departure of Albanian mayors. of the locality.
The player then justified himself at a press conference in front of Serbian journalists. “It’s a sensitive subject. I feel an additional responsibility as a public figure and as the son of a man born in Kosovo to support all the Serbian people. It’s the least I can do. I am not a politician and I have no intention of engaging in debate,” he said.
However, this is not the first time that the player has spoken about Kosovo: in January 2008, after his first Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open, he said: “Kosovo is Serbia. Serbia, supported by its Russian and Chinese allies, has never recognized the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province and tensions regularly erupt between Belgrade and Pristina.
The Roland-Garros ethics charter prohibits political or religious positions. But the FFT published a rather sibylline press release, without addressing the question of a possible sanction: “The debates which cross the international news sometimes invite themselves on the sidelines of the tournament, it is understandable”, simply declared the federation.
“Djokovic’s sentence is not a surprise, deciphers for AFP Lukas Macek, researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute based in Paris. Novak is someone who has ties to certain Serbian nationalist circles, and his positions often go in the direction of the nationalists. But on the question of Kosovo, even for very moderate Serbs, we feel that it remains a wound, a delicate and painful subject. »
Such a sensitive issue for Kosovars: a mural bearing the image of Djokovic was vandalized overnight from Monday to Tuesday on a building in Orahovac, a small town in southwestern Kosovo where several hundred Serbs live alongside Albanians, the majority, according to Serbian national television.
However, his position against the anti-COVID-19 vaccine cost him dearly, with several days of detention and his highly publicized expulsion from Australia in January 2022. An incredible sequence founding a conspiratorial stature for some.
“He mostly has positions that aren’t in the ‘Western mainstream.’ There is a provocative side to him, undeniably, analyzes Lukas Macek. His “COVID-19-Tour” organized in the former Yugoslavia in the midst of a pandemic, which turned into a cluster, perfectly illustrates these rough edges. »
Behind the scenes, his attempts to reorganize the circuit did not have the desired echo either. His personality, probably an enigma to many, “seems to cut him off from a popularity commensurate with his talent,” a tournament director said a few years ago. This judgment could perhaps change in the event of a victory at Porte d’Auteuil.