At French Open, a New Controversy for Djokovic

'Kosovo is the heart of Serbia,' he wrote on camera lens at French Open
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 4:18 PM CDT
Djokovic Warned Not to Repeat Kosovo Remarks
Serbia's Novak Djokovic eyes the ball as he plays a shot against Hungary's Marton Fucsovics during their second round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Wednesday, May 31, 2023.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has once again found himself in the middle of a controversy—and this time, it involves his father's hometown in Kosovo, which used to be a Serbian province. Srdjan Djokovic grew up in Zvecan, where 30 NATO peacekeepers were injured in clashes with ethnic Serbs on Monday. On the same day, Djokovic wrote "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence" on the lens of a courtside camera after a first-round French Open victory, the Guardian reports. Serbia, along with nations including China and Russia, did not recognize Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008.

In later remarks, Djokovic said he felt the need "to give my support to our people and to the entirety of Serbia."The Kosovo Olympic Committee urged the the International Olympic Committee and the International Tennis Federation to take action against Djokovic, accusing him of promoting "the Serbian nationalists' propaganda" and raising tensions between the countries, CNN reports. Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, France's sports minister, said the message was "not appropriate." She described the message as "militant, very political" and said it "must not be repeated," reports the AP.

A spokesperson for the ITF, which said Djokovic broke no regulations, said the complaint from Kosovan sports authorities had been received and forwarded to the relevant Grand Slam authority. "Rules for player conduct at a Grand Slam event are governed by the Grand Slam rulebook, administered by the relevant organizer and regulator," the spokesperson said. "There is no provision in this that prohibits political statements." (More Novak Djokovic stories.)

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