Novak Djokovic's brutally honest revelation about time he wanted to quit tennis

Several years ago, Djokovic contemplated retirement.

by Dzevad Mesic
Novak Djokovic's brutally honest revelation about time he wanted to quit tennis
© Getty Images Sport - Hannah Peters

Novak Djokovic reveals he thought about ending his pro tennis career after undergoing elbow surgery but late NBA legend Kobe Bryant encouraged him to keep going. 

After retiring injured his 2017 Wimbledon quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych, Djokovic didn't play again until the start of 2018. When Djokovic returned to action, his elbow was still causing him difficulties and he opted to have surgery in 2018 February. After months of struggling with injury and eventually having to undergo surgery, Djokovic wasn't in the best place mentally.

"Kobe always helped me when I needed it the most. When I had elbow surgery, mentally I was not well. I even considered leaving tennis. He encouraged me, shared his experience, gave advice," Djokovic told L'Equipe.

Djokovic paid a special tribute to Bryant

Bryant, a former six-time NBA champion, tragically lost his life in a helicopter accident in 2020 January. During his legendary NBA career, Bryant wore numbers 8 and 24. 

After winning his 24th Grand Slam title at this year's US Open, Djokovic remembered the late Bryant by wearing a special jacket that had "Mamba Forever" written on it. Later, Djokovic said he realized that he could pay a very nice tribute to Bryant on his 24th Grand Slam win.

"Mamba, yeah… I thought of doing this t-shirt eventually if I get a chance to win the tournament, it was about seven days ago. I didn't share it with anyone up to few days ago when I asked my people to help me out to make these shirts," Djokovic said after paying tribute to Bryant at the 2023 US Open.

"I thought, 24 is the jersey he wore when he became a legend of the Lakers and world basketball. So I thought it could be a nice, symbolic thing to acknowledge him. I thought of doing this T-shirt eventually if I got the chance to win the tournament."

Novak Djokovic