London: The bombing and privations that came as part and parcel of the punishment Serbia took during the Kosovo war taught tennis world number one Novak Djokovic how to deal with adversity, he told The Times.
Novak Djokovic. Pic/Getty Images
The 29-year-old — who is preparing for Wimbledon where he is the two-time defending champion and which gets underway on Monday — said life had hit rock bottom during the 1998-99 conflict between Albanian guerillas and Serbian forces with Nato siding with the former and bombing Serbia.
"We grew up in harsh conditions, which is the most important factor to understand our journey," said Djokovic, who was 12 at the time and huddled with his family in a bomb shelter for 78 successive nights.
"Sanctions, war, bombing. The economic crisis. I skipped many junior tournaments because my parents didn't have the money.
"These experiences have shaped us. I believe we appreciate things more. We have started from the very bottom. The consequences of those times, and adversities are deep inside us," added the 12-time Grand Slam winner.
"Those difficult times have made me stronger," said Djokovic.