The Australian Open is where winning majors began for Novak Djokovic in 2008, but the newly-minted 21-time Grand Slam champion keeps Wimbledon just as close to his heart after winning an astounding seventh title at SW19.

Djokovic fended off a worthy challenge from Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) to secure his first major in 12 months, when he put himself in pole position to win 2021’s Calendar Year Grand Slam.

Defeat at that year’s US Open final sent Djokovic through a year of disappointment, leading to his loss of the No. 1 ranking to Daniil Medvedev. The nadir, of course, came in Melbourne when the unvaccinated Serb was deported from Australia before the tournament began.

Djokovic reflected on his year of ups and downs, and just what Wimbledon means to him, in his post-championship presser:


Q. How do you manage to go from Australia in January to producing a performance like this? Is the achievement more emotional because of this? Are you more determined than ever now to keep in the game until you achieve the record?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I mean, certainly this year has not been the same like last years. It has started the way it has started and it has affected me definitely in the first several months of the year. I was not feeling great generally. I mean, mentally, emotionally, I was not at a good place.

I wanted to play, but at the same time when I went out on the court in Dubai, was the first tournament of the year, I just felt so much pressure and emotions happening. I wasn't feeling myself on the court.

I realized at that point that it's going to take some time, that I have to be patient, and sooner or later I will get myself in the state, optimal state, where I would like to be.

Wimbledon historically has always come at such important stages of my life and my career. When I say Wimbledon as a tournament, but me winning Wimbledon. Few times, I think it was in 2018 when I was starting the year with elbow surgery, trying to work my way back in the rankings, not playing well. This was the first slam that I won that served as a springboard for later US Open win, 2019 Australian Open.

It's not a coincidence that this place has such relevance in my life and career. It's a relief, as well, considering what I've been through of course this year. It adds more value and more significance and more emotions, of course.

I don't feel I'm in rush really anywhere to end my career in a year time or two years’ time or whatever it is. Just I'm not thinking about it. I want to keep my body healthy 'cause that's obviously necessary in order to keep going at this level. Of course, keep myself mentally sane and motivated to compete with the young guns.

Barring a policy change that eliminates a vaccine mandate for foreign travelers, Djokovic will be unable to compete at the US Open this summer; his status regarding the Australian Open also remains up in the air, as he is also unable to receive an Australian visa following his deportation.

But between his continued physical freshness and unmistakable force of will, it appears likely Djokovic can ride out this unfortunate chapter—one largely of his own making—and persist in his quest to become the Greatest of All Time. Should he achieve that accolade, he’ll have Wimbledon to thank.