Sunday, July 3, 2011

Djokovic wins Wimbleton

Yahoo image: Novak Djokovic

Loren followed tennis closely and Wimbleton especially. I think he would have been satisfied with the outcome of this year’s Wimbleton finals: Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic beat Raja Nadal in an epic tennis match today.

Loren was always for the underdog. And he was also a sort of expert on the complex and complicated history of Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslavia, where Djokovic’s family is from. It is one of the most complicated histories of all time, and for some time, as sports writer Mike Hodgkiss wrote in The Telegraph, an English newspaper, Serbia was "a pariah-nation."

Djokovic, born in 1987 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, once a citadel of ethnic harmony, trained and rose to glory in professional tennis during one of the most turbulent eras in Yugoslav history, the fall of the communist state and the rise of extreme ethnic violence and ethnic wars fron the early 1990s throughout the decade. Genocide and ethnic cleansing reached a new level of international crimes against humanity.

I still can’t sort it all out, nor could I as it unfolded on television. Loren instructed me from time to time. I wish he were here now to fill me in. Today the former Yugoslavia is three new countries with distinct ethnic makeup. I’d like to think that Djokovic’s victory can be savored by all factions, all parties, all ethnic groups. So does Djokovic, who is a member of Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization promoting peace in the world through sports. Like former Wimbleton champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, one of my favorites, Djokovic is a “fan of languages,” and speaks four fluently (Wikipedia bio). He lives in Monaco.

Overlapping Djokovic’s rise and Yugoslavia’s wars is a bit tricky, but for sure the family lived during the worst of times. Loren could tell me. It would be interesting to find out more, but for now, the family is living through the best of times. It’s a nice victory for tennis, and maybe world peace. Loren would be happy about that.

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