Wimbledon tennis - 'I truly try to manifest wolf energy on court' - Novak Djokovic grateful for 'wolf family'
"I owe a lot of credit to my wolf family!" Novak Djokovic joked to Eurosport. "When I was a kid, actually, I spent a lot of time in the mountains because my parents had a restaurant business from which we lived. I truly try to manifest that kind of determined, instinctual wolf energy on the court. I feel it helps; that, balanced with calmness, knowing when to attack."
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In an interview with Eurosport's Mats Wilander and Barbara Schett at Wimbledon, Djokovic has given further thoughts about his connection to wolves and what they symbolise for him.
"I owe a lot of credit to my wolf family!" he joked to Eurosport. "When I was a kid, actually, I spent a lot of time in the mountains because my parents had a restaurant business from which we lived. Every time I had a school break I was there.
"So I love the ability to have freedom, space, go around and be in the mountains. I did have an encounter with wolves as well, actually! Yeah, a little bit... from afar! I was not as brave as I am now, talking about it.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates winning against Chile's Cristian Garin during their men's singles fourth round match on the seventh day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships
Image credit: Getty Images
"Wolves always kind of attracted me, you know. We are, at least most people, frightened of wolves, but at the same time they are very instinctual animals, and I think very important animals for our ecosystem and for us.
"I grew up in the mountains, so for me, I had that connection, even though I wasn't having those kind of close encounters with them.
Yeah, I truly try to manifest that kind of determined, instinctual wolf energy on the court.
"I feel it helps; that, balanced with calmness, knowing when to attack and knowing when to rest. So I think those kinds of symbolic explanations kind of fit with wolves."
Djokovic had started the wolves narrative in an on-court interview when he said: "I think a part of it is genes - my family, the way I've grown up during difficult times for my country.
"Failure was never an option for me or anyone in my family. We just needed to find the basic needs for us to survive during those times. It was difficult, and I think that has strengthened my character, I would say.
Part of it comes from my upbringing in the mountains. I spent a lot of time in the mountains with wolves, so this is a wolf energy right here. I'm not kidding, actually!
Novak Djokovic, poing serré, lors de son 3e tour du tournoi de Wimbledon, contre Denis Kudla, le 2 juillet 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
Speaking to ESPN later on, he elaborated on the "wolf energy" line from his on-court interview that caught widespread attention.
"I like to think about wolves as my kind of spiritual nature guide,” he said. "I really do because I’ve seen some wolves when I was a kid, kind of roaming in the forest in the mountains where I grew up, and that encounter kind of left me frightened and then at the same time even more connected with wolves, and I feel that the connection has carried on throughout my life.
"It was kind of a half-joke on the court, so to speak. There is the connection, and I personally feel it, there is that energy of wolves and mountains and everything that I grew up with and the circumstances that I was in when I was a kid – I carry that with me, and that helps me find that energy when I need it.
"That dynamic energy that sometimes it just turns into a roar or an outburst but most of the times it is useful energy."
The Australian Open and French Open champion earlier this year has been heavily backed to continue his incredible form this season as he aims to draw level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam singles titles.
The defending champion, chasing his sixth Wimbledon title, certainly appears set to make it three Grand Slams out of three this year if he can continue the way he has been playing at the tournament in the final stages.