“Косово је < 3 Србије! Стоп насиљу. Using a white marker, Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic wrote on the lens of one of the Philippe-Chatrier court's cameras five words in Cyrillic letters and drew what looks like a heart, after having won the first round of Roland-Garros (6-3, 6-2, 7-6), Monday May 29. Two sentences that could be translated as "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia!" Stop the violence. This exit from the world number 3 comes as northern Kosovo is the scene of clashes between Serb demonstrators demanding the departure of Albanian mayors, law enforcement and members of the international force led by NATO.
And this is not the first political position of the Serb: "We are ready to defend what belongs to us", he launched already in 2008, when Kosovo declared its independence. Serbia is living "one of the most difficult times in its history", he said. "Djokovic's sentence is not a surprise, deciphers Lukas Macek, researcher at the Jacques-Delors Institute, interviewed by Agence France-Presse. Novak is someone who has ties to certain Serbian nationalist circles, and his positions often go in the direction of the nationalists. »
"It's a very sensitive subject. As a Serb, I am very touched by the events in Kosovo and by the way our people were expelled from the municipalities", justified the tennis player during the post-match press conference in Serbian, transcribed by Serbian Radio and Television. “I am the son of a man born in Kosovo and a public figure, I feel an additional responsibility and the need to give my support to all of Serbia. »
The Serbian star added: “[If sanctioned] I would have no regrets and would do it again because my position on this is very clear. I am against war, against violence, against any kind of conflict and I have always expressed it publicly."
"We are waiting for an exact translation"
The Kosovo Tennis Federation called the player's act "deeply regrettable", calling on the sportsmen to "work for peace and refrain from abusing their position in sport for political purposes", the court said. instance in a press release.
On the French side, the director of the Roland-Garros tournament, Amélie Mauresmo, reacted with caution on Twitch. “There, we are waiting to see even an exact translation (…), because we have several versions that go back to us (…). We will see. And talk to him to find out what he really meant. No precipitation (…). We're just going to put things down," she tempered.
Speaking on the subject of the war in Ukraine, she points out that players, especially Russian and Belarusian players, but also "all other players" have been asked to remain neutral and not to speak out on this conflict.
At the opening of the tournament on Sunday, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with her Belarusian opponent Aryna Sabalenka. The player considers the authorities too accommodating with Russian and Belarusian players since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022. If she was booed by the public, the tennis federation did not react to His gesture.
In the 2023 French Tennis Federation Ethics Charter, the only article mentioning political opinions is under the "prohibition of any form of violence or cheating". "Discrimination based on gender, physical appearance or ability, social condition, sexual orientation or preference, religious or political opinion" is against the rules, according to section 2.5.2. But there is no clear question of a ban on expressing political opinions.
Also, it is asked to "tennis champions [to] be aware of the impact of their image, their gestures or words on individuals and in particular the youngest", states article 2.2.4 of the charter .