Novak Djokovic’s father compares custody of son in Australia to the crucifixion of Jesus

Tennis player Novak Djokovic’s native Serbia is protesting his current imprisonment and being denied entry to Australia ahead of this month’s Australian Open.

The 34-year-old top-ranked tennis player is currently waiting in a hotel with asylum seekers and refugees after the Australian Border Force denied her COVID-19 vaccine waiver request and canceled her visa. Djokovic declined to disclose whether he had received the vaccine.

One of the most vocal protesters against Djokovic’s position is his father, Srijan Djokovic. On Thursday, he compared the incident to an attack on Serbia, referring to the 1999 bombing of Serbia by NATO to withdraw its forces from Kosovo.

“Novak is Serbia, and Serbia is Novak,” he said. “They are trampling Novak and thus they are trampling on Serbia and the Serbian people.”

Srijan Djokovic said his son was a symbol of a “free world” and that Australian authorities were “abusing” him because he is a Serb.

“Shame on them, the whole freedom-loving world must rise together with Serbia,” he continued. “They crucified Jesus, and now they’re trying to crucify Novak and force him to his knees.”

Other residents of the Serbian capital, Belgrade, agreed with conspiracy theories that Djokovic was being targeted for being Serbian rather than for not complying with the vaccine mandate.

Sarjan, the father of tennis player Novak Djokovic, said his son was the victim of a “political agenda” in Australia. Above, Sarjan Djokovic speaks during a protest on January 6 in Belgrade, Serbia.
Darko Wojnovi / AP Photo

Djokovic was expected to win his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, setting a men’s record for major championship wins.

His ability to compete in Melbourne and take on rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer has been in limbo since his visas were cancelled.

The government of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic summoned the Australian ambassador to protest Djokovic’s “detention”.

Vucic said he had spoken to Djokovic and reprimanded Australian authorities for keeping the tennis star in a “notorious hotel” where Djokovic was kept with asylum seekers and refugees.

“I fear it will continue to be overkill,” Vucic said. “That’s what you do when you can’t beat anybody on the court.”

Most of Djokovic’s fans at home agree, reflecting the anti-Serb conspiracy theories rampant in the Balkans.

“It is historically clear that there is something against the Serbs in the world,” said Belgrade resident Darko Iconic.

He said, “I am not saying that Serbs are heavenly people or anything like that. This is nonsense.” “But it’s clear that they don’t want him to be the best tennis player in history because they like other tennis players like Nadal or Federer better.”

A player from Serbia, the Balkan country bombed by NATO in 1999, while Djokovic was a boy, financially crippled, with few tennis courts and a short tennis pedigree—the chances of becoming world No. 1 were close to zero.

Although Djokovic did so, garnering a huge following in Serbia as well as neighboring Balkan states, he was heavily criticized abroad for his court theatrics and outbreaks, as well as for the COVID-19 pandemic. and refusing to disclose whether he has been vaccinated or not.

In addition to his anti-vaccination stance, Djokovic has occasionally lashed out while playing, along with his attempt to start a players’ union outside official channels backed by Nadal and Federer. This included throwing and breaking his racquet during the Tokyo Olympics and other matches, or, most infamously, when he was disqualified from the 2020 US Open after accidentally skipping a game after being strangled with a ball. He was disqualified after hitting a line judge in

He has had a tumultuous relationship with some audiences around the world. Supporters of Federer and Nadal see him as a negotiator. He is the youngest of the three—Federer is 40 years old; Nadal came along after the 35- and “Fedal” rivalry garnered so much attention. At the start of the 2011 season, Federer had 16 major titles, Nadal nine and Djokovic one. Over the next decade, Djokovic overcame them and set a winning record against each.

And while he enjoys plenty of support from the crowd, some say Djokovic gets less support when he plays Federer or Nadal. In terms of endorsements, Djokovic earned less than half of what Federer earned from May 2020 to May 2021, according to Forbes,

In 2020 amid the pandemic, and with professional tennis shutting down, Djokovic organized the Adria Tour in his native Serbia and neighboring Croatia, a series of exhibition events without social distancing. The tournament was abandoned after several participants tested positive for coronavirus. Djokovic and his wife Jelena revealed they tested positive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.