Introspective Djokovic takes fourth Laureus award
Serbian tennis player says it was hard to recover from elbow surgery in 2018 and admits to challenging and difficult moments mentally on the court
An introspective Novak Djokovic won his fourth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award in Monte Carlo on Monday night and admitted that he considered his tennis future at times during 2018.
Djokovic‚ who won the US Open and Wimbledon in 2018‚ was crowned winner in a category that included football stars Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe‚ basketball superstar LeBron James and Kenyan marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge.
US gymnast Simone Biles was named Sportswoman of the Year for her incredible feats. In 2018 her performances at the gymnastics world championships were unprecedented.
She won four gold‚ one silver and one bronze medal. She made history 2018 by becoming the first woman to win four all-around world championships. At just 21‚ she now has a record 14 career world titles.
Djokovic‚ who underwent elbow surgery in early 2018 and missed part of the season‚ admitted that coming back was harder than he imagined.
“I thought I would come back quickly from the injury but I was not ready emotionally and my game was not there, not even close‚” Djokovic said.
“But in my mind‚ knowing what I was capable of doing and the quality of tennis I can play‚ I felt it wouldn’t take much time to get there. That’s where I had a reality check.
“For several months I was experiencing some challenging and difficult moments mentally on the court and I started questioning and doubting everything.
“But I had great support of my family and people around me‚ who trusted the process and empowered me to be positive.
“There were many life lessons I learned along the way in the past year and to be able to be recognised for them at Laureus was a privilege and an honour.”
Djokovic admitted that having elbow surgery went against his beliefs because he only views operations as an absolutely last resort. His wife, Jelena, described the decision to have surgery as “killing a part of him”.
“I’m a big believer in natural healing and if we treat our bodies right they have the capacity and ability to heal‚” Djokovic said. “I respect the conventional ways of treating an injury but I just feel that for me surgery is a last resort after you have exhausted every other option.
“I’ve tried to nurture an holistic view because playing professional sport at the highest level puts a lot of wear and tear on your body.
“You can’t avoid certain injuries‚ but how you treat your body in the long run is up to you. I’m a big believer in focusing on small details. I can never separate myself privately and professionally because you are always the same person.
“I’m a believer in nature and that our bodies are strong enough to heal as long as we are supportive and not destructive to them.”
Fifa World Cup winners France became the first national football team to win a second Laureus World Team of the Year Award‚ fighting off competition from the world-leading teams including Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1‚ Golden State Warriors and Real Madrid, whose French coach Didier Deschamps was in Monaco to accept the award on behalf of the team.
Japan’s first Grand Slam tennis star Naomi Osaka received the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award for her victory in the US Open‚ where she defeated five-time Laureus Award winner Serena Williams.
Osaka‚ 21‚ who is now number one in the world‚ makes history as Japan’s first Laureus Award winner.
Golfing star and 10-times Laureus nominee Tiger Woods won his third Laureus Award‚ after winning the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year accolade at the 2000 and 2001 Laureus Awards.
He received the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award for winning the Tour Championship‚ his first win in 1‚876 days‚ returning to the game after spinal fusion surgery.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi lost out in the moment of the year category to Chinese mountaineer Xia Boyu. He was recognised for his efforts in becoming only the second double-amputee to scale Mount Everest‚ and the first to reach the summit from the Nepalese side.