Laura Laplaud with AFP / Photo credit: JEAN CATUFFE / DPPI VIA AFP 14:55 pm, May 30, 2023

A new exit from the frame and a new controversy: the sentence of Novak Djokovic after his match at Roland-Garros Monday about Kosovo, "the heart of Serbia", feeds once again the image of this extraordinary player, master in the art of controversy.

A new controversy for Novak Djokovic. The least we can say is that he knows how to make people talk about him. After winning his match against American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1) on Monday at the Roland-Garros tournament of which Europe 1 is the official radio, the Serb, armed with his marker, wrote a few words in Cyrillic on the camera of the Philippe-Chatrier court.

"Kosovo is the heart of Serbia!"

"Kosovo is the heart of Serbia! Stop the violence." This exit of the world number 3 comes at a time when northern Kosovo has been the scene of clashes for several days where many members of the majority Serb community in four cities in this region do not recognize the authority of Pristina and are loyal to Belgrade. A political position however prohibited by the ethical charter of Roland-Garros, as well as religious positions.

The Serbs boycotted the April municipal elections in these localities, which resulted in the election of Albanian mayors with a turnout of less than 3.5%. These mayors were sworn in last week by the government of Albin Kurti, the prime minister of this territory overwhelmingly populated by Albanians, ignoring calls for appeasement launched by the European Union and the United States.

"I am not a politician and I do not intend to engage in a debate"

Novak Djokovic then justified himself in a press conference: "This is a sensitive subject. I feel an additional responsibility as a public figure and as the son of a man born in Kosovo to support all the Serbian people. It is the least I can do. I am not a politician and I do not intend to engage in a debate," he said.

This is not the first time the player has spoken about Kosovo: in January 2008, after his first Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open, he said: "Kosovo is Serbia." Serbia, supported by its Russian and Chinese allies, has never recognised the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province and tensions regularly erupt between Belgrade and Pristina.

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A sulphurous reputation

In recent years, his position on the Covid vaccine had also given an incredible sequence. For this reason, Novak Djokovic was expelled from Australia shortly before the 2022 edition of the Major in Melbourne. Soon after, he was not allowed to come to the United States to defend his chances at Indian Wells and the US Open. Just like this year when he could not participate in the Masters 1000 of Indian Wells, California, last March.