How do you become a champion?

by Jelena

After he won his long-awaited 13th Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic attended the Wimbledon Champions dinner at Guildhall, London accompanied by his team. As a 2018 Singles Gentlemen Champion, he was invited on a stage for an interview in front of past champions, legends, juniors and club members. His 13th Grand slam title came after 2 years, 6 months off, surgery and many, many obstacles (and defeats).

One of the most common questions champions and winners are asked after their victories are: how do you become a champion and how do you cross that path from junior champion to senior champion and stand here on this stage with a trophy?

Believe in yourself and always remind yourself why you chose to play tennis. When the road becomes too challenging and you start doubting, remember that love and passion have brought you there.

Novak Djokovic

Knowing yourWhyand keeping it close to your heart is a very simple and yet powerful advice. Showing up with your core values each time you are tested is always the right path to any form of success. You will grow, you will learn, you will fail, you will succeed – but your authentic YOU will be imprinted in everything you do.

You are your values. Just like each of us has unique fingerprints, each of us has a unique set of values that we carry through our lives. That’s what makes us Original.

Gary Keller, the author of many bestselling books, gave a very powerful quote on success quite recently on one of the podcasts I listen.

He said:

Success is nothing more than moving from failure to failure without giving up.

This is so true.

23rd June 2018, Queens Club, London, England; The Fever Tree Tennis Championships; Novak Djokovic (SRB) celebrates towards his coaches after wining a vital point, Image: 375816532, License: Rights-managed, Restrictions: , Model Release: no, Credit line: Profimedia, Actionplus

The secret formula for success

Novak does not allow anyone to put limits on his capabilities because he doesn’t want to be constrained. He believes in constant growth and improvement and he doesn’t let it come to him by chance. He is the one chasing it. When he reaches one peak, he looks for another one to climb. He listens and respects other people’s opinions, but he is never defined by them.

At his best, he is brave to try new things, to explore and invent, and in turn, he developed a bulletproof skin. Every day he fails at something. He has doubts at times and a few moments of disbelief, but what keeps him going through those moments is probably something many of us don’t even acknowledge as important.

The secret to overcoming any challenge in life is to stick to your routines. When you wander off and things become too complicated…go back to your basics, the ones that have gotten you to the point of success in the first place. Novak is very good and consistent in his routines.

Being master at something means you will repeat it thousands and thousands of times until you can do it in your sleep. It becomes part of you.

Bruce Lee said:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”

Maybe this explains success the best. We try to complicate it. We try to make it look impossible. The truth is, success is all about repeating basics until they become mastery.

soft focus of tennis ball on tennis grass court with sunlight


Novak is getting up every day and going through his routines that I like to call rituals. They are his firm foundation for the day, the energy for the day.

Sleep, prayers, stretching, water intake, food, family time – there is no skipping of any of it. That’s how his day is fueled and that’s a good energy that feeds his purpose.

And yes, he hits his forehands and backhands every day. Countless drills, different angles, different surfaces, different opponents. He trains every day. One would think – why more forehands and backhands, you must know them by heart by now? But that’s what it takes. Sport can teach us so much.

Why would anyone want to stop reading just because they learned to read? Knowing to read is just the start, not an end. Same applies to everything we do. We don’t just stop because we learned basics. We start using those basics to build many more complex things in life. Learning doesn’t stop when we get the university degree.

Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do. 

Bruce Lee

Unless we go out there and try, all the theory we learned from books and our professors remains just that. A theory.

When you do what you do THE BEST IT CAN BE DONE, not just the best you could do. Wow. History. So proud. What a moment. First man on the planet to do this. First. One. Ever. Love you ❤️ #TheMasterofAllMasters #GoldenMasters #CincyTennis

How do you find your purpose?

Are you doing this to simply do the best you can do, or are you doing this to do it the best it can be done?

Gary Keller

If you aim for success, you have to be very specific and precise when defining your life’s purpose.

Novak didn’t just train more. He trained smarter. He recovered smarter. He worked on his self-belief because he knew that once he becomes THE ONE, everybody will come after him. The one thing he can always rely on is his self-belief. His purpose.

His purpose is love for life. His learning and training classroom is the tennis court. His tools are his body, mind, racket, shoes and the effort he puts into fueling and strengthening all these tools to deliver him the best possible chance to do what he loves the most the best.

I’ve been asked so many times why I don’t go to all of his matches and watch all of his games. The simple answer is – the purpose. I have my purpose, and sometimes that purpose is much better served when I am not there watching him on the stands. We all have to make a few sacrifices along the way. But what makes it all more bearable is knowing that you are doing it for the greater good of the team.

And no, your purpose is not what others tell you it is. Read the book “The top five regrets of the Dying” by Bronnie Ware, and you’ll understand this better. Asking people at the end of their life, what they wish they knew earlier brings us a lot of wisdom. One of the most common regrets of dying is

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

Bronnie Ware

All of this is easier said than done. One thing I like to pinpoint is that everybody defines success in different terms. Being successful doesn’t necessarily mean lifting a trophy. It doesn’t mean having money. Different life circumstances and different environments define what goals we have in life. Everything drives us back to ourselves.

Here is a cheat list of all the important steps to become a champion in life:

  • know who you are
  • know your values
  • know your purpose
  • there are no limits
  • get rid of distractions
  • YOU define YOU
  • love and passion are great compasses
  • stay true to your values and inner beliefs
  • stick to your good, positive routines

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures”

F.M. Alexander


What defines you? Have you discovered your purpose yet? What are the basics you have to work on to get you going to the next stage – to achieve your ultimate purpose?

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Rehana Uehling September 3, 2018 - 9:30 pm

I love this article! It is so smart, honest and great lessons to learn. Congratulations on a job well done!

Jelena December 21, 2018 - 12:12 pm

Thank you Rgi! You are always so supportive and such a great role model. Thank you!

David Leesburg January 28, 2019 - 7:02 am

Wow! Read and studied extensively about talent, x-factor and you solve in in one if your first blogs. Magical content on everything! Keep it going❤️

Alexandra-Nicoleta July 14, 2019 - 9:31 pm

Oh! What an inspiring post!?
Thank you for this great article!
Greetings from România! ?

Darija December 21, 2018 - 1:04 pm

Great article (and i love the title)! I love your idea about the blog and this kind of content. It is always nice and inspiring to read articles like this. And your english is really good. Good luck and just keep on good work!

Ana December 22, 2018 - 12:09 am

“Why would anyone want to stop reading just because they learned to read? Knowing to read is just the start, not an end. ” – Love this! This really applies to pretty much everything in life. Why would you want to learn basics and then not use them for greater things? I’m thinking of how kindergarten and primary school are a kid’s foundation. Everything you learn there are things you need your whole life = basics. It’s pretty much impossible to not extend them; sometimes it even happens automatically and unconsciously.

Thanks for sharing this article, Jelena!

jelena December 27, 2018 - 6:41 pm

Exactly! 100%!! Thank you Ana!

Lucero Malvaez December 22, 2018 - 3:58 pm

Great article!!! Great blog. Congratulations. It’s a really nice to see your work. So much to learn. Thanks and good Luck

jelena December 27, 2018 - 6:43 pm

Thank you Lucero! I’m excited too as I am learning and growing through this adventure so much 🙂

Nenad December 23, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Great article, very inspiring.
I would lile to know more about how one defines / find out his values and also how to align oneself to them.

jelena December 27, 2018 - 6:43 pm

I will explore that, thank you Nenad. Good question 😉

Elena Pak December 24, 2018 - 6:30 am

I love this article! And your writing style! Very clear, understandable and precise!

jelena December 27, 2018 - 6:44 pm

Thank you Elena!

Anja Bohinc January 4, 2019 - 7:48 am

Jelena, you are such an inspiring human being, shining your own kind of healing light that brightens up in such vivid colours of hope, enthusiasm, joy, focus and therefore it all manifests in your exceptional inner and outer beauty! Keep on rocking gurl 😉

P.s.: Bas uzivam slusati te na srpskom jeziku, toliko je elegantan i sočan ??

Jelena January 5, 2019 - 6:50 pm

Oh wow. Speechless. Hvala. ❤

Bree January 19, 2019 - 5:50 am

Reading this article (and many of your others) whilst watching Novak play in the Australian open. I live in Australia and have to say, we love having your husband here (and you when you are here!). I absolutely love this article and admire you both. The purpose piece really resonates with me and I completely respect what you say with holding to your own purpose. Keep sharing all of your amazing wisdom please.
Bree x

Harshil Pankaj Kakaiya January 27, 2019 - 4:08 pm

It has been an a great learning curve for me to follow closely the life of Novak as his fan and as a human being. His struggles with injury and his performance dip that was caused by it, and then returning to his peak, is a great learning curve for not just him but for everybody in life. Your article perfectly describes what were the ingredients in him becoming the player he is and your support I’m sure has been invaluable. I’m also sure that his love for children and NDF have also helped him immensely. I wish both you and him a happy life.

Dr. Pradeep Padmanabhan January 27, 2019 - 5:46 pm

Fantastic article . I could see him playing his amazing game with a great purpose , even better with the strength of the family. He is peaceful in the exercise of his passion , for he has done all the work prior.
Inspiring quotes .

Tatjana Popovic January 27, 2019 - 6:27 pm

Wow! What a blog! ??? Congratulations to both of you!! ????

Małgorzata January 27, 2019 - 7:43 pm

Such a powerful and inspiring post! Absolutely love it! I’m new to your blog but after reading this one I’m gonna stick for more!
Sending you&your fam lots of love from Poland! ❤️

Frank Williams January 27, 2019 - 9:04 pm

Jelena, this is so wonderful to reflect on as a coach…. I will share with my tennis mentees, and try take it to heart myself as sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. What a wonderful fortnight in Melbourne for our guy and team ! I bet your heart is soaring like all of #NoleFam !

Jelena January 27, 2019 - 9:20 pm

This article and how he was written shows the most how much the practice is important. I can call it an essay, an essay on life, modern philosophy… smth like that. .. My point is that, when we know our purpose, we need to master ways of life, to shape ourselves to get to the bone of it. It’s not about money or fame it’s about succeed in being succeful, with help from “material world”.
This article shows me that.
Thank you Jelena for sharing all your work with us. We are blessed.

Cai January 28, 2019 - 2:37 am

Great article! NoleFam here from the Philippines! ???

Bill January 28, 2019 - 4:39 am

I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written! Greetings from Colorado!
I’m bored to death at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during
lunch break. I really like the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a
look when I get home. I’m shocked at how quick your blog loaded
on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G ..
Anyhow, good blog! There’s certainly a lot to
find out about this issue. I really like all of the
points you’ve made.

Vidhi May 19, 2019 - 9:19 am

Lesson for life!

Jean-Pierre February 17, 2020 - 8:31 pm

On your blog, there’s also this article :
Do you think the success of Novak is partly linked to his strong ego, to his desire to see himself accomplish great things ?
It sometimes seems contradictory so seek for a life without a strong ego and at the same time to try to accomplish great things. What do you think about that ? Do you think Novak could apply what Eckhart Tolle says and still be efficient on the court ?
Congratulations for your blog, very nice.

Warren September 11, 2021 - 7:44 pm

Great read!

I’ve just published an online course called The Right Mindset The Route to Game Set and Match for Tennis Players. The first module is called The Big Why and understanding why you play tennis so 100% agree with this post.

Catalina September 12, 2021 - 10:15 am

Amazing is also the way you deal with all the aspects of your life and living with a great champion like Novak is. He is not an average champion so are you not an average incredibly companion but both outstanding ones. You have all my admiration and respect. God The Lord blessing you every moment of your lives.
Congratulations to both of you and your families ❤️

Amit Singla September 13, 2021 - 8:44 pm

Hi Jelena
I watched Novak play Us open final yesterday at Arthur Ashe. He is a great player and athlete of our times and we love. I inspire my kids using him as a role model. Thank you for the post.
Amit Singla

Dejan September 17, 2021 - 10:23 am

Great article.

Junaid Saraf January 11, 2022 - 8:38 pm

Jelena Djokovic and Novak Djokovic.

You both are my inspiration and I want to lead my life the way you guys do. It took me a lot of time to realise my value system and I made several mistakes enroute. However, I am not willing to give up on myself and at 28 years of age, I am redefining myself with new process and routines.

It’s not going to be easy making new sustainable habits but my “WHY” has become too strong now.

Thank you so much for everything! I will meet you guys someday in my life and thank personally.

God Bless you both. 🙂

Caragh Hosoi September 7, 2022 - 2:23 am

Hi Jelena and Novak,☺️

I just stumbled across this page as I saw that you are doing the conscious parenting course with Dr Shefali who I absolutely love. I am a therapist now but was working as a nurse until last year when I was terminated because I didn’t follow public health orders .
I have followed Novak since he stood up and was so incredibly courageous and brave with his stance against the fear and coercion that has been going on especially over the past 2 years.
I live in Australia and was disgusted by the way he was treated here.

I just want to thank you both so much for your strength and leadership and your love and dignity.
You are both such inspirational souls and are bright shining lights in our world. This planet needs you to shine and to light the candles of those who have lost their path…, 🙏

I work as an RTT therapist to help people to peel back the layers of programming which has been instilled on them since childhood and my passion is to teach people to become conscious and aware so that the next generation can learn to heal themselves before bringing another being into this beautiful world …

Sending love and gratitude to you both 🥰❤️🙏

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