For a man used to holding silverware in his hand, Novak Djokovic was in reflective mood on Monday night in Monaco. He had just received his fourth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award, marking the end of a twelve month period when injury led him to doubt his strength, ability and desire.
“I’m very thankful to Laureus for recognising my story and my journey in the last 12 months. A year ago I was on the surgery table,” he says. “I was back on the court only five weeks later and then for several months I was experiencing difficult moments because I was not ready emotionally, and my game was not there – not even close.”
In picking up the Laureus statuette, Djokovic recognised the importance of his family and in particular his son, in keeping him going during a tough time. “Being a parent was and is the best thing that has happened in my life and the most challenging work that I will ever have in this lifetime,” he admits.
Djokovic admits that getting through this tough period has given him new strength – and has taught him some valuable life lessons.
“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that the destination is not more important than the journey – it’s the other way around,” he reflects. “I try to direct and focus my attention on experiencing everything now, rather than later and my goals are the same as they’ve ever been – winning as many Grand Slams as possible. But at the same time, my bigger goals are to stay mentally healthy and balanced and nurture my well-being because I know when I’m in an optimal state of mind, body and soul, I will have a better chance of achieving my sporting goals.”
And will he be celebrating his latest triumph?
“Ever since I’m a father, I’m a pre-midnight type of guy! But it’s important to celebrate. It’s important to be joyful, smile, laugh, and share quality moments with your close ones and with everybody you encounter on your wonderful journey of life!”
And with that Novak Djokovic was gone. Happy and hopeful for the future.