Novak Djokovic is, as of this writing, the best men’s singles tennis player on earth. The top-ranked star claimed his eighth Australian Open title earlier this month.
That catapulted Djokovic past perennial foe, Rafael Nadal. Crucially, it put him another major step closer to beating Roger Federer’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
Now that Djokovic is back on top, it’s the perfect opportunity to look into the man behind the success. Here are five things you didn’t know about Novak Djokovic.
Novak Djokovic is a polyglot
Novak Djokovic, by necessity, dedicates much his waking hours to staying in shape for taking on the best tennis players on the planet.
Yet his grasp on the world around him, and the culture it has to offer, somehow isn’t diminished. Djokovic is an ever-improving polyglot, a person who is fluent in several languages.
He doesn’t just meet the bare minimum for that standard. He has a passable grasp of at least 11 total languages, and is fluent in five. His native Serbian and regularly displayed grasp of English should be no surprise. But Djokovic can also hold court in French, Italian, German, too!
Novak Djokovic wrote a diet guide and his own autobiography all at once.
Novak Djokovic suffered from health problems throughout his life. Even as he ascended to the heights of tennis stardom, he suffered from recurring fatigue and breathing problems.
Those years of suffering, and the dietary changes that solved many of his issues, add up to the unique autobiography-by-way-of-diet-guide that Djokovic wrote in 2013. His gluten-free approach to athletic discipline is documented in painstaking detail in his book, Serve to Win.
The pro-vegan documentary alongside an all-star lineup of celebrities
Serve to Win is largely focused on the gluten-free aspect of Novak Djokovic’s lifestyle. His other dietary passion, veganism, gets the focus in the Netflix documentary, The Game Changers.
The documentary lays out the case that the high protein intake required for bodybuilding, lifting, and athletic conditioning can be obtained through a completely vegan diet. Djokovic produced it, alongside familiar names like James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, and Chris Paul.
Owns a vegan restaurant for three years
Somehow, between an elite tennis career, promoting a book, and producing a documentary, Novak Djokovic found time to own a vegan restaurant as well. For three years, his restaurant Eqvita served customers high-end fine dining with a unique vegan menu.
The Monte Carlo restaurant served brilliantly plated dishes, popping with color. The fresh ingredients — often, but not always served raw — were the real star of the show, however.
The vegetable gnocchi, black bean burger, and flavorful whole grain rice side dish were the most lauded favorites at Djokovic’s restaurant experiment.
High school sweethearts
As Novak Djokovic’s tennis life continues to accelerate, his romantic life remained remarkably stable. Rather than indulging in the excess of his globetrotting lifestyle, he stayed close with his girlfriend Jelena Ristic. The pair originally met in their Serbian high school’s tennis program in 2005.
The two were paired for eight years before tying the knot in 2014. The happy couple have two children together so far. Notably, Jelena was absent for her husband’s 2017 Wimbledon run, to some criticism from fans annoyed with Novak’s sub-par performance. She revealed shortly after that she was pregnant with their second child, turning a sour moment into something celebratory.
Besides raising their kids, Jelena spends the professional half of her life putting her business management expertise to work. She runs the day-to-day operations of the Novak Djokovic Foundation. The charity primarily focuses on improving the day-to-day lives of disadvantaged children in Serbia.
Novak Djokovic hails Maria Sharapova as an inspiration to others
“She’s great fighter. As dedicated as someone can really be in our sport”
World No 1 Novak Djokovic has described Maria Sharapova as an inspirational figure and has praised her fighting spirit following her retirement from tennis at the age of 32.
Djokovic heard about Sharapova’s retirement after he reached the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships quarter-finals by swatting aside German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Sharapova, whose Wimbledon victory over Serena Williams in 2004, aged 17, propelled her to stardom and riches, broke the news in an article for magazine Vanity Fair.
The former world No 1 has played only two matches this year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open, with her ranking sliding to 373.
Djokovic asked the crowd to applaud Sharapova for everything she accomplished before reflecting on her achievements.
I’m sorry that it had to end with an injury obviously but at the same time she had a fantastic career and she can be proud of herself.
Novak Djokovic on Maria Sharapova
“She’s great fighter. As dedicated as someone can really be in our sport,” said Djokovic.
“The willpower and the willingness to kind of overcome all the obstacles she had, especially … with injuries and surgeries and trying to fight back, come back to the court and play on her desired level.