Former Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli reacted to the statement by Novak Djokovic, recent winner of the US Open and who joined Margaret Smith Court at the top of tennis history with 24 Grand Slam titles. The former French player agrees with “Nole”, believing that the popularity of the record holder for weeks in first place in the world would be much greater if he were not from Serbia.
“We know very well that if he were American, with 24 Grand Slams, 39 Masters 1000, 6 end-of-year Masters, the player with the record for weeks spent as number one, the one who played in the most finals of Grand Slam (72 participations, 36 finals), he would have a statue in each city, confides the former French number one in the Grandes Gueules du Sport on RMC this Sunday. It's not just the fact that he's Serbian. It is a very small country which has an extremely turbulent recent history.”
The episode of his expulsion before the Australian Open due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 did not necessarily help to improve his image. “This is a player who made headlines last year for an absolutely incredible event to cover. It went beyond the columns of the sports section. To think that the player who won the most Grand Slams (10) would have been expelled from the country and who would have been in a detention camp before leaving, you would have put him on a Netfilx series, we wouldn't would not have believed,” continues Marion Bartoli.
With her track record, the former tennis player believes that the world number one must be recognized at her true value and can be seated at the table of the greatest, alongside Mohamed Ali and Michael Jordan. “Can he fit into this conversation because of the track record he has and the fact that he’s won in three different decades? Yes, but not in terms of popularity.