Novak Djokovic’s stature back in Serbia is difficult to overstate. He’s the greatest sporting hero the country has ever produced. Serbia’s president Boris Tadic once told 60 Minutes that Djokovic was such a popular and vital figure back home that he could win an election for the highest office. But Djokovic doesn’t foresee a role in Serbian politics after tennis.
“I wish to help my country in many ways, but not as a politician,” Djokovic told Sport360.com. “Novak Djokovic Foundation is helping Serbia quite a lot by taking care of disadvantaged children and helping them access quality education.
“We are opening kindergartens, playgrounds, training teachers and helping institutions, and that means a lot to my country.”
While he may not want to get involved in regular politics, Djokovic has become increasingly vocal when it comes to expressing his thoughts on tennis’ internal politics. Speaking to Sport360.com, Djokovic reiterated his desire to see more power with the players.
“First thing that I would tackle would be the relationship between players and the ATP,” he said. “I wish they would take our interest in front of others. It makes no sense to have them represent both players and tournaments when our interests conflict so much. It should be separated or at the very least, handled better.”
Last month at the ATP World Tour Finals, Djokovic provided a more expansive explanation of his concern that the current power structure within tennis’ multiple governing bodies — whether with the ATP, ITF or Slams — favors the tournaments’ interests over the players.
“When [Ivan] Ljubicic was president of council, he actually took the initiative, sat down with all the top players,” Djokovic said in London. “I was [ranked] No. 3 at that time, he spoke to me, to [Rafael] Nadal, to [Andy] Murray, to [Roger] Federer, to four of us, said, ‘Listen, guys, I think you should be involved in the sport because your voice is very important here, you make the show, you should be part of decision making, and you should express your wish, your desire, your thoughts in order to improve this sport, in order to get it better for your interest and, you know, just for better of the sport in general.’”
In order for change to occur the top players need to get involved, but Djokovic finds it too difficult and frustrating to focus on the internal workings of the tour while still playing.
“Players have no energy or time to spend on these things. Then they involve their agents. It gets complicated, prolonged, whatever, politics. We don’t have time for politics.
“The structure right now doesn’t go in favor of players. I mean, I don’t want to sound like somebody that is complaining all the time. There are so many good things about this sport. But there are also many things that can be improved, that can go in the right way, but it doesn’t happen because we don’t have enough say, we don’t have enough say in the present structure.”