Is Djokovic “the greatest Serb” after Tesla?

Large Caption: Two Greatest Serbs

It is well known that Novak Djokovic is somewhat of a national hero for many Serbs. Recently, people started calling him “one of the two greatest Serbs,” the other being Nikola Tesla. I find this unfortunate for two reasons.

First, why is it so important that Djokovic comes form Serbia? This seems to be his defining feature according to the proud compatriots. His Serbianness has nothing to do with his greatness as a tennis player. It seems that this is not so much about Djokovic as much it is about the commentators. and this leads me to the second reason why I find this whole “the greatest Serb” thing troubling.

If being Serbian is not what caused Djokovic’s tennis greatness, then it seems that the emphasis on Djokovic’s nationality signals the desire of other Serbs to say to the world “see, he is one of us; he represents us.” But, why would I want to use Djokovic to represent myself instead my own achievements? Well, if I feel that my own achievements are insignificant, then it would make sense to use someone else’s achievements as if I am part of them.

This is saddening. The Djokovic obsession seems to signal a very low self esteem level by many Serbs. I am curious to see the reaction when Djokovic is not at his peak any more. One potential outcome is that he becomes a source of anger for many of those who now see him as a source of their pride.

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