April 30, 2011
Reigning world number two tennis pro Novak Djokovic stood victorious in the field of religion as well, as he was awarded the Order of Saint Sava of the first degree on Thursday. It is the highest decoration awarded by the Serbian Orthodox Church for Djokovic’s dedication and generosity to the religion. The honor was presented to the Serbian by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus.
At the suggestion of His Grace Bishop of Raska-Prizren Teodosija, Djokovic was appreciated for his devotion to the Church, exhibited by his unrelenting help for the people of Serbia and the sanctuaries of the Holy Church. His welfare efforts, especially for people in Kosovo and Metohija, were recognised by the Holy Church.
“This award is certainly the most important I’ve ever got,” said Djokovic after receiving his honor. “As an athlete and a religious person, it is hard for me to find appropriate words to describe my feelings of gratitude for the confidence I gain from the Holy Synod. I can only say that it can be earned only with hard work and self-belief, belief in your loved ones and in God.”
Djokovic’s family was not the only attendant at the ceremony but a number of well reputed dignitaries were also present to appreciate the young tennis star for his religious services. The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Bishops Irinej of Backa and Forije of Dalmatia were among the few attending the award ceremony.
The 23-year-old Serbian is already at the peak of his career and has climbed up to the number two spot in men’s ranking by toppling over the Swiss maestro, Roger Federer, this year. Djokovic’s performances with the racquet had been exemplary in the current ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) season. He has already bagged four championship titles, including the Grand Slam Down Under, this year. Receiving the Order of Saint Sava award clearly depicts the strong character of the man and it denotes that he is not only a champion on tennis courts, but a true devotee to religion and people welfare as well.
Djokovic is currently playing the Serbia Open at Belgrade, Serbia and has reached the semi-final of the event. He will be facing his good friend and fellow countryman, Janko Tipsarevic for a place in his fifth ATP final of the year.