Novak Djokovic and wife Jelena: 16-year romance going strong despite infidelity rumors
With Novak Djokovic facing Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon finals scheduled for July 11, the anticipation has never been higher to see the tennis pro ace. But despite his worldwide fame and accolades, his biggest fan perhaps continues to be wife Jelena, who has been smitten with him every single day since they became high school sweethearts years ago.
With a record 325 weeks ranked No. 1 as of June this year, Djokovic's excellence in the sport is undeniable. Today, the Serbian tennis player stands just one Grand Slam win away from Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal. And at home too, he is a boss dad — something his wife Jelena can't stop gushing about in interviews. But this glorious marriage of seven years and running was not without scandals and controversies, with some people going so far as to offer payments to have a Serbian model seduce the tennis wiz.
Present at every single match, always standing next to the Balkan champion, Jelena Ristic met her beloved Nole in 2005 when they were both in high school. The dreamy teenage romance soon saw its fair share of crisis as Djokovic delved into the deep end of trying to establish himself as a professional in tennis. The couple braved every hurdle and became husband and wife.
With money not enough for expensive trips and Djokovic traveling around a lot, trying to break into the big leagues, long-distance woes crept into their relationship. "Us getting together was like science fiction almost," Jelena told Hello Magazine about the beginning of their courtship. "I was a student barely getting by, and he was a very young tennis player who also had no money to spare on expensive trips. Airplanes were, at the time, something utterly out of our reach."
As the tennis champ worked his way into making a mark, Jelena was swirling in a demanding job at an oil company. “At a certain point, Novak told me: ‘Darling, we cannot go on like this,’” Jelena added. “I was confined to the office almost at all times. It wouldn’t have been possible for our relationship to thrive if I had stayed there," Jelena told the outlet. So they did what any power couple does, and decided to overcome all odds. “We contrived and devised these plans how to meet, how to make our relationship work,” Jelena said, and in 2013 September, Djokovic whisked her away to an elaborate proposal at the Couvent des Minimes hotel in Provence.
During the helicopter ride to the venue, Djokovic popped the question and on July 10, July 2014, he married Jelena at the Aman Sveti Stefan resort in Montenegro, just days after beating Federer that year in Wimbledon. At the time, Jelena was pregnant with the couple's first child, Stefan, who arrived later that year, in October 2014. The couple was joined by another bundle of joy, a girl they named Tara, in September 2017.
"He never gets tired and even when he is at home he sees videos and analyzes everything that has happened, analyzes the next opponents and I must say that he is really a great professional," Jelena told tabloid Kurir, describing the husband she has seen and grown old with, in the last almost 20 years. She also noted that his work never keeps Djokovic from being a great father. "Novak is a wonderful father and plays his role very well. Of course, unfortunately, he helps as much as possible with children since he is a person with many commitments and big responsibilities. I give him a hand and together we are a great team."
Speaking about who takes the big calls in the family, at least when it comes to food, Jelena addressed how the couple turned vegan. "His eating habits? Well, he's a great perfectionist and knows his body very well," she said in the interview. "He didn't go vegan under my influence, he's a champion on and off the pitch and no one can force him to do anything. We are a team, we explore everything together and indeed he was the first to become vegan. I'm fine with myself and this is always my goal but each of us does what he wants, our children always have a choice. It is obvious that given his role, I had to simplify the work and make sure not to cause him further stress."
But it's not just food habits that their children have a choice in. Being little progenies of a world star athlete comes with the unnecessary expectation of following in their footsteps. Stefan, who will be 7 this year, has already expressed interest in the sport and reportedly plays regularly with his dad. That said, the couple feels it's still too soon to steer them that way purposely.
“Look, I’m giving him (Stefan) all the space and all the time he needs in the world," Djokovic spilled in an interview with Channel Nine. "I really want him and my daughter to really express honest desire to take the racket and the ball and just hit, got to the court or up against the wall. I would be more than happy and thrilled to support them in their tennis careers and journeys but it still very early to talk about it, you know, my wife says."
The other kind of remarks Djokovic often has to make in public are rumors about his marriage ending. Following his poor performance at 2017 Wimbledon which also saw Jelena missing from the stands in a first, speculations emerged that an alleged divorce was the reason behind the loss. The reason behind Jelena's absence was her pregnancy as she was expecting Tara at the time.
But people were so obsessed with the marriage falling apart that Serbian model Natalija Scekic was allegedly contacted by people who offered her 60,000 euros to film herself seducing Djokovic, reports Svet Scandal. Scekic denied the proposition and the Djokovics came out of the turmoil stronger than ever. Sixteen years, countless tough times, and two beautiful children later, the couple is happily married with ample resources spent into The Novak Djokovic Foundation, which Jelena runs as CEO.