Janko Tipsarevic, the world number 9 and the new columnist for The Tennis Space, discusses the impact that the success of his country’s top players, especially Novak Djokovic, is having on Serbia’s image around the world.
In the last few years, we have had bad luck with leaders of the country, especially Milosevic. That just destroyed the reputation of the country worldwide. A small country like Serbia does not show up on CNN or the BBC or any other big and global news television unless something really big is happening. In the last 10, 15 years, almost all of the news, except sport, was bad so everyone got the wrong impression of Serbs as people.
What tennis is doing and mainly what Novak is doing, is putting the face out there in a bright and good light, because people around the world mainly believe what the media feeds them and what the media needs them to believe. And the truth is normally not exactly like this. But in sport, the good thing is that there is no lying. You have results, you have scoreboards and whether somebody likes it or not, winning is more or less everything.
If you have a war, like we did, in 1991, with Croatia and Bosnia and all these countries and then only a couple of years later you have the Kosovo problem, I am guessing that people around the world do not have a good impression about Serbia. As I said, we had bad luck with leaders and politicians, people who are leading the country for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the people. Everybody was thinking that Serbs were like, I don’t want to say terrorists, but bad people. And that’s honestly not the case.
A few months ago, I tweeted: “I keep telling you, Novak. One more big win and we will join the EU.” Well, I make fun of Novak sometimes, I call him the President. Because, honestly, what this guy is doing internationally for Serbia – apart from our current president who is doing a good job and wanting Serbia to get to the EU – Novak is one of our main weapons to help improve the perspective that people have of the country worldwide. So in a way I was joking, but in a way I was not. The thing is, the way things are going in the Eurozone currently, you would say that joining the EU would not be a good idea, but in my opinion this is the only future for Serbia.