© Ella Ling

Novak Djokovic - Olympics

Novak Djokovic's letter to Jelena Gencic

Today in Belgrade, the Serbian Tennis Federation (TSS) commemorated the life of Jelena Genčić, who was an accomplished handball and tennis player for the Yugoslav national teams before turning to coaching as her second career. The service was attended by former player Slobodan Živojinović and Davis Cup captain Bogdan Obradović, as well as members of the Djoković family. Unable to attend, Novak Djoković sent a farewell letter to his first coach, which his mother, Dijana, read to the assembled group. A big thank you to Ana Mitric for the translation.

My dear Jelena,
I am immensely sad to be saying goodbye to you today. You prepared me for many situations in life—for wins, for triumphs, for our trophies—but I am completely unprepared for our parting. Not being able to see you off makes me endlessly sad. Still, I know that you’d be mad if I gave up or decreased my chance to fulfill this final wish of ours, winning Roland Garros.

Thank you for your patience, your enormous love.  Thank you for your everyday support, for the advice I remember, for the warm words which always carried an extraordinary message. You know that I’ve memorised them all and that I always follow your rules. Our last conversation, two weeks ago, didn’t suggest that anything was wrong.  I’m sad because even then you made an effort to keep me free from any concerns and assured me that everything was alright, that you were in the hospital for a routine check-up — that I shouldn’t worry but win.

You were an angel. Both when you coached me and afterward, I felt your support wherever I went. Sincere. Strong. Unconditional. You left an indelible mark on Serbian tennis. Everyone who holds a racquet in his or her hands today is indebted to you. I promise that I will speak your name to future generations and that your spirit will live on on our tennis courts.

Funeral services for Genčić, remembered as “a symbol of sportsmanship,” will be held on Wednesday.

  • old_skule

    Vecnaja pamjat!

  • Sue Orme

    A truly remarkable women that did a lot for Serbian tennis. She will be miss
    but never forgotten. A beautiful letter for a deeply loved Jelena.

  • Serbia

    All of Serbia is immensely indebted to this extraordinary, remarkable, beautiful lady who dedicated her whole life to others … to helping children realise their potential, not only as sportspeople, but – just like our dearest Nole has become – to become the best human beings posible.