My parents were an inspiration. I was 6 and , so I didn’t have much choice in deciding which sport I was going to play. But I enjoyed tennis and loved it from the first point. I also have to thank my cousin, who was playing tennis in Germany and started before me.
My mom used to be a tennis player, and then she got me and my brother, Jamie, playing when we were young. We had tennis courts very close to our house, a two-minute walk. I just loved doing anything sporty when I was a kid because my brother was doing it as well. It was great family time for us.
The first people that motivated me were my brothers—when I was born they were already playing tennis. I was playing with them since I was 3 years old. It’s so good to have a family that loves the sport.
The very first person that pushed me into tennis was my brother, because he was playing before me. Also my father, because he brought me to the court—even if I was smaller than the net.
When I started, my family was always there. My parents, my grandparents, my sister, my friends—everybody was supporting me from the first day I decided to become a pro.
I started playing tennis when I was four years old. Nobody had ever really touched a tennis racquet before me in my family, so there was no tradition to inherit. Three tennis courts were built in front of the restaurant my parents were running, so it was kind of a sign of destiny for me to start playing. I fell in love with it. A lot of tennis camps and clubs from Serbia came to those courts. I was watching them, then joining them, and that’s how the love story evolved. Ever since then I’ve been in love and feel the joy of holding a racquet every single time. As long as that’s there, I’ll be playing on a high level.
For generations, and for generations to come, tennis has positively impacted the young and old, on and off the court, in countless ways. In this year’s Heroes special, we’ve selected 30 such stories, including a 10-year-old amputee’s life-changing moment with Roger Federer, the rebuilding of a college program after Hurricane Katrina, a former prodigy’s important message as an adult, and a 78-year-old coach’s enduring influence on the pros. Taken together, these 30 stories illustrate how people grow up, grow as individuals and grow old with tennis—the sport of a lifetime. Click here for more Heroes stories.