Tennis players travel all over the world to play tournaments at the highest level. Due to the amount of travel, a good amount of players speak multiple languages. It helps particularly if they started at a young age, but with some downtime while recovering from workouts, there are opportunities as well.
Few tennis players can match Novak Djokovic’s love of languages. In fact, some believe he’s the most versatile speaker in the game today.
How Many Languages Does Novak Djokovic Speak? Novak Djokovic speaks five languages fluently (Serbian, English, Germany, French, Italian). He’s also shown some level of proficiency in several other languages.
Growing up in Serbia was not always the best from a tennis perspective for Novak Djokovic. Not only were playing facilities limited, but temperature sometimes kept him from practicing as much as he would like outdoors. Fortunately, his family was fairly well off, and he was able to get time on the courts to practice and hone his craft.
Speaking in Serbian has always been his preferred language, for obvious reasons. However, because not that many people in the tennis world know how to speak Serbian, he is rarely heard talking around others. There are many Serbians on the tour, but the big journalists in the sports don’t necessarily speak it.
Like a lot of tennis players, Djokovic pretty much felt forced to learn English at some point in his life. This is a way to better communicate with fans and crowds around the world.
English is the language used on tennis courts universally. Just about every umpire speaks in English with players. Also, except for some rare instances, scores are announced in English for fans in attendance.
German seems to be the most comfortable language for Djokovic speaking outside of his top two. He is considered fluent in German, and will do interviews in the language when the opportunity arises.
With many German speakers involved in tennis, he will occasionally speak the language in casual settings.
Djokovic doesn’t show off his French too much, but he is confident enough to speak to the French media during the French Open. The same goes for any other tournaments that he might play in the country. It is one of those languages that he learned early on in his career, and he tries to stay sharp with it whenever he can.
There’s a decent amount of French spoken in Monte Carlo, where he occasionally spends time during the offseason. This is another reason he focused on learning the language and getting to the point that he could speak fluently.
Out of the five languages Djokovic is fluent in, Italian is the one that people hear the least of. Part of that is due to not many tournaments being in Italian-speaking countries, but he also seems to have the least practice.
Still, Djokovic will not shy away from doing interviews in the language, and he seems to relish the opportunity to show it off once in a while.
What Other Languages Can Djokovic Speak In?
Djokovic might only officially be fluent in five languages, but he has shown that he can speak a little bit of Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Arabic.
As a self-described lover of languages, Djokovic understands that just saying a little bit in a native tongue when playing in a tournament can go a long way towards building some fan appreciation.
Out of the languages mentioned, he has probably tried the hardest to be proficient at Spanish. This makes a lot of sense with so many Spaniards on the tour and tournament stops in a few of the major cities.
Will Djokovic Become Fluent In Other Languages?
At this point in his career, Novak Djokovic does not surprise anyone with his ability to learn languages quickly and efficiently. It truly seems to be one of his passions, and having the building blocks by speaking several other languages shows that he is not afraid to give anything a whirl.
With all that being said, Djokovic currently has a very busy schedule touring worldwide and playing tennis. He wants to continue staying sharp with the five languages he knows, which might not give him enough bandwidth to practice any more than that.
This could very well be a passion that Djokovic dives back into once he’s done playing tennis. It’s considered a hobby for him more than anything, and having a reason to work on new languages could push him to add to the five he’s already fluent in.
How Does Djokovic Stack Up Against His Rivals In Speaking Different Languages?
Djokovic is not alone in loving the language-learning process and also being very good at tennis. For example, Roger Federer is another one who finds learning languages fascinating. He’s fluent in Swiss German, German, French, and English.
Rafael Nadal isn’t quite as known for his love of languages, but he still speaks pretty well in several languages. He’s fluent in Spanish and Catalan, and his English consistently improves every single year. He’s been able to address crowds in French and Italian, although he has never claimed to be fluent in either.
Andy Murray, at one point Novak Djokovic‘s biggest rival, never found a way to master the same amount of languages as other players on tour. Even though he lived in Spain for two years and trained, Murray never learned the language to survive.
He’s only fluent in English, and will throw in a few phrases here and there to try to be relatable to the fans. He’s gone on record to say that not learning different languages is one of his biggest regrets from his childhood.
Is It Worth Learning New Languages As a Tennis Player?
From talking to different players to winning fans over in the crowd, there are many advantages to knowing as many languages as possible in the sport of tennis.
A lot of players grow up playing internationally, so they start to learn languages without even really thinking about it. Those who wait until later in life find it more difficult, as is the case with any other learners.
Djokovic is one of the best linguists in tennis history, as few can say they can certainly speak five or more languages. It without question helped him grow his fan base in many different ways, and he seems hungry to learn more down the road.