Novak Djokovic On 60 Minutes [Video]
by Tom Gainey | March 25th, 2012, 11:07 pm

Here’s the full video segment of Novak Djokovic’s appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes” which aired earlier today. In the 15-minute feature the World No. 1 discusses his upbringing, his relationship with mentor Jelena Gencic, the importance of his Wimbledon title, his role as a hero in Serbia and why he no longer does imitations.

Bob Simon did the reporting and as usual with 60 Minutes it’s a top quality piece.

Djokovic is in action tomorrow at Miami against countryman and good friend Viktor Troicki.

If you cannot see the video, here’s a text excerpt:

The tennis court served as a haven for Novak because the country he had been born into, Yugoslavia, was coming apart, quickly and violently.

Bob Simon: Did you realize that when you started climbing the tennis ladder that your country was falling down?

Novak Djokovic: Yes, yes, that was the period that nobody likes to remember.

Yugoslavia split into separate countries. The world blamed Serbia for the bloodshed. The country’s leaders were accused of war crimes. In 1999, as the conflict spread to the province of Kosovo, the Americans and other NATO countries bombed Serbia for 78 days and nights. The Djokovic family took shelter in Belgrade.

Novak Djokovic: We were very scared. Everybody was very afraid because the whole city was under attack.

They sought refuge here, in his grandfather’s apartment. Novak took us there.

Novak, his grandfather, parents, two younger brothers, aunts and uncles — all lived in this two-bedroom flat during the blitz. The building had a basement. When the air raid sirens sounded, they retreated there, which was as close as they could get to safety.

Novak Djokovic: This is where practically we stayed right, right here, right inside.

Bob Simon: How many of you?

Novak Djokovic: Phew…everybody who could fit here, they came. You know, and there was no really limitation.

Novak says the family spent every night in the basement for the first two weeks of the bombing.

Bob Simon: But you continued playing tennis?

Novak Djokovic: I continued playing tennis every day.

Bob Simon: And did you lose your focus at all?

Novak Djokovic: At the first couple of weeks I did. I did, yes, I have to say. Because we were waking up every single night more or less at 2:00, 3:00 a.m. for two and a half months, every single–

Bob Simon: Because of the bombing?

Novak Djokovic: Every single night, yes. But the best thing about it, you know, I always try to remember those days in, in a positive, in a very bright way. Let’s say I, we didn’t need to go to school and we played more tennis. So, for us, that was something that we remembered the most.

Bob Simon: So in a way…

Novak Djokovic: Yes…

Bob Simon: …the war helped you become a champion.

UPDATE: Novak’s reaction to the feature:
“Well, I loved the piece on CBS last night on 60 Minutes. We were looking forward to it. We were excited to watch it, even though I don’t like watching myself. My girlfriend, my team was really excited.

It was really nice, because in a way I feel a need to represent my country and to allow people to see in public my story and how, not just me, but all the athletes, the tennis players, how we grew up, especially the generation that had to go through wars and difficult times where, you know, you didn’t have much conditions, support, didn’t have a professional facilities that could accommodate you and allow you to develop yourself into a professional tennis player.

Most of us were spending quite a few years out of our country for those practices and trainings. But we were always coming back and reflecting on that mentality. I believe that that’s actually something that made us, you know, stronger and gave us the opportunity to be where we are.

Because not many countries in the world have been through what we did, what we have been through. We know how it feels to, you know, lose the close ones, lose your own people in the war, touch the bottomness as a country in every aspect of the life, and then, you know, stand up and be stronger, you know, be reborn out of it.

You know, it’s just the situation that nobody likes to remember, but it’s part of our lives. We are just proud to, you know, reflect on that wherever we go and say, Okay, you know, that’s something that we been through.”

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27 Comments for Novak Djokovic On 60 Minutes [Video]

jane Says:

That was great.

Wog boy Says:

I cannot see it;(

Alex Says:

It’s kind of sad, that the guy on 60 minutes can pronounce his name correctly. While Patrick McEnroe, keeps calling him “Jockovic”.

Sam Crowe Says:

Wow! What a wonderful segment on 60 minutes! It was so refreshing and encouraging! I just loved it! I really like the imitations Novan Djokvic does. My last name is “CROWE” like Sheryl Crow and Russell Crowe. Anyway, growing up, I received a lot of cawing from kids imitating the CROW call of the CROW BIRD. I just learned how to CROW correctly,and when someone crowed at me, I just crowed right back with a much better imitation then theirs. We all laughed; it was great fun! I did not let it get to me. I can do a much, much better imitation of a CROW cawing than most anyone else, and I love to do it even when people do not CAW at me. Thanks for a really great segment! It was so uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging. How can you not help but love the guy!!!!!!!

by Sam Crowe

Duro Says:


Ajet Says:

I would love for djoker to appear at the David Letterman Show, it’s incredible programme to watch!

And dunno if ellen de generes show allows sportsperson, but if it does, ellen should invite djoker over there coz djoker and ellen are some of the most fun-loving and entertaining people in the whole universe!

jane Says:

Ha Ajet, Nole would be funny on Ellen. I know Ellen has had Sharapova on there before, and they played ping pong or something. ;)

Brando Says:

@ajet: I’m not too keen on the letterman show myself. The problem with him is he never seems to give his guest a chance to speak freely- it’s always about him not them. Surely it’s the guest that the public is interested in. Nole on ellen? That could be good. I haven’t seen enough of ellen but from the little I have seen, she seems a better host IMO. Her guests feel relaxed, at ease and very forthcoming on her show.

Ajet Says:

Jane & Brando:

The best part of ellen de generes show is she scaring her guests, lol! Woule be superhit if she’s somehow able to scare Djoker there! ;)

if you like to, then just google how she scared taylor swift, its so funny! i love it!
i love ellen, she’s fantastic! :D

but i seriously like david letterman show as well, he’s very funny! i also talk lot when i meet people, so it’s fine with me! ;)

Polo Says:

Djokovic on 60 minutes came across as a very well-rounded person. He sounded intelligent and with a good sense of humor. His mimicry of the other athletes were funny but he showed maturity in avoiding doing them again because he did not want to offend anybody, especially “twice” as he said. He truly loves his country and his countrymen love him back. Any country will be proud to have a citizen like him.

Polo Says:

Letterman can be mean to his guests. But I think Djokovic can handle him. He is witty enough, not too self-conscious and with a bit of self-deprecating attitude. And he is quite a showman, too. He would be a perfect talk show guest.

tennisfan Says:

The video was really inspiring. The way Nole has come up deserves to be applauded and appreciated.

Novak Djokovic- The Fearless Champion!

Wog boy Says:

I just managed to see the video now. Nicely done.
I would like to say few words about Jelena Gencic, the lady that made all of this happen. She never married, doesn’t have kids and her whole life is dedicated to sport, particularly tennis. All the kids that she coached are her kids. She discovered Monica Seles, Goran Ivanisevic and finally, the jewel of the crown, Novak Djokovic. She was never in spotlight nor did she want to be, she belongs to the old Belgrade family, her grandfather was army doctor, colonel, and spent WW1 in trenches with soldiers, then sent his son to study in Wiena and his son came back with a uni degree and an Austrian wife. He almost disowned him (fresh memories from WW1), but luckily he didn’t and Jelena Gencic was born. She probably inherited Austrian work ethics from her mother and the rest from us, Serbs:) When she was playing tennis in the 60’s she had to use public transport from her home in afluent suburb of Dedinje to tennis courts and hide her racquet to avoid slurs in the bus, because tennis was sport of capitalists and didn’t fit politicaly in existing system. I really felt touched when I saw her hugging and kissing Novak. So much love in those few seconds. Jelena just deserved more recognition in Serbia and she finaly got it and thank you Novak for acknowledging the importance of beautiful lady Jelena Gencic in your life. God bless you both.
Sorry people if you didn’t like it, but I just had to post it.

courbon Says:

Hi Wog Boy,
I can see Belgrade boy posting this (or not?)Well, I like your post-something differnt then usuall Federe-Nadal Fans bashing each other and Physics-astrology posts…My father was friend of Monika Seles father, so I know the story…One day,my dad ask me to play with Monica (he was seeing her dad for coffe, by the tennis courts )but when I heard she was junior champion (and younger then me), I refused to play with her-when you are ten years old, you can not have girl beating you!(…even Monica)

Wog boy Says:

Hi courbon,
Glad you like it. You are not wrong, you can see Belgrade boy, far away from home, posting it.
Pity you didn’t play with Monica, you could have a picture with a girl that by the time she was 19 had 7-8 GS titles:)
She was great champion, I don’t think anyone can repeat that.

Joe W Says:

Wog Boy – thank you for the enlighting back story. I had never heard of Jelena before and just assumed that Marion had been Novaks coach since, well forever. Everyone would be so lucky as to have a person like Jelena in their live. Just imagine if mentoring was compulsory, like joining the military. How different the world would be…great piece by 60 minutes.

Wog boy Says:

Joe W,
No problem, yes, Jelena was with Novak from the age of six until age of twelve, if my high school memory is correct Sigmund Freud said that a person is formed by the age of twelve, everything after that is just adjustment to different life situations. I wasn’t the best of students, but I loved Freud as much as I didn’t like Erich Fromm and Ludwig Feuerbach, and don’t remember anything about them apart from Feuerbach’s thesis that we had to know by heart and I never knew them :)

courbon Says:

To Wog Boy:
Yeah, you are right-it’s pitty.
Anyway,enjoy tennis and hopefully Nole will prevail.I’m off to Frace for couple of days,speak to you soon.
Sve najbolje…

Ajet Says:

Lovely post about Jelena Gencic Wog Boy! :)

Informative, interesting as well as very heart-touching! I think few could be able to represent the story of Jelena Gencic is as precise and appealing a manner as you have done!

Do you write or teach literature??? i’m mighty impressed by your presentation! B-)

Ajet Says:

courbon is so lucky!!! only if i had even a near chance of being close to any of the top singles players! :/

Alexander "X" Says:

(Wog boy)

Would be fair to say a word about Nikola Pilich as well. Took to Novak forever to stop by to Ms Gencic’s door, how long will take to say thanks to Nikola. Vajda current coach did not take Novak from Ms Gencic.

The anthropologists based on the research believe that human used to be completely formed up to age of 4. It is interesting that many cycles are going every 4-year Olympic Games, World cup, the elections in some countries and so on.

Novak Djokovic: “I’m Waking Up Every Morning Knowing That I Love This Sport” Says:

[…] who was just profiled in an excellent feature by American news magazine “60 Minutes”, has a day off today to recover before a quarterfinal showdown Thursday against David […]

Wog boy Says:

Alexander “X”,
I agree with you that this was long overdue and that was partly the point of my post.
When it comes to Nikola Pilich it is different story. Novak never lost touch with Pilic as he did with Jelena, (almost 10 years). She was the person who recognized Novak talent, took him under her wing, shaped him as tennis player and young man.
Pilic helped them to set up Serbia Open, Pilic guaided Serbia to their first and only DC, so they have been seeing each
other on regular bases. Another thing is that Jelena introduced Novak to Pilich and asked Pilic (they are good friends) to take over Novak. That was tennis academy and not free, though they probably had to pay something to Jelena but nowhere near as boarding child in academy for three years in Germany. Mia, Nikola’s wife was like a mother to young Novak but at the end it was business.
Nikola Pilich is a great man and gentleman and deserves credit but as I said Jelena was forgotten for years and Nikola wasn’t. He was always around.
As for a second part of your post I lost you, you are saying that people are formed by the time they reach four years, right? I don’t know but I don’t remember anything from when I was four:)

Wog boy Says:

Thanks, but I am not as good as you think, just another poster:)

Wog boy Says:

Have fun…….uzivaj

Danica Says:

Jelena Gencic was not only the tennis player and coach, she was a handball champion as well and one of the best producers on Serbia’s TV. I remember seeing her name on great programs and wondered whether that’s the same lady who took Ivanisevic and Seles to Orlando and Disney World during the Orange Bowl championship :)). Many years later, I figured that yes, that’s the same multitalented person who obviously made an impact in lives of so many.

She was the one who asked Nikola Pilic to take Novak in for half the tuition, knowing that she gave it all and that Serbia couldn’t offer more.

toch san andres Says:

their stories [novac and jelena]are inspiring and touching!hat’s off to both of them!

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