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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Novak Djokovic won a record-tying fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award on a night that tennis stars shined in Madrid.

Photo credit: Burak Akbulut/Anadolu/Getty for Laureus World Sports Awards

Even when he’s not holding his Head racquet in his head, Novak Djokovic is a major champion in a room filled with the world's greatest athletes.

The Serbian superstar shined at the Laureus World Sports Award in Madrid on Monday night.

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Grand Slam king Djokovic earned his fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award, equaling rival Roger Federer for most in the 25-year-history of the Laureus Awards.

World No. 1 Djokovic received the award from his friend, former NFL standout Tom Brady.

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Tennis—and sport—can be transformative and Djokovic praised the Laureus organization for using the power of sport to improve lives.

“I am truly blessed to be among sports greats as a winner, but also as a supporter and admirer of Laureus Sport for Good as I too believe in the power of sport to make a difference in the world,” Djokovic said in his acceptance speech. “Finally, this Laureus Statuette stands alone because it represents more than sporting achievement.

“The Laureus mission of using sport as a power for good has been changing lives for 25 years and embodies the values of its founding patron, Nelson Mandela. I want to add my support to Laureus Sport for Good and the work they are doing to transform lives around the world.”

Reigning Roland Garros and US Open champion Djokovic was honored for his spectacular 2023 season that saw him sweep three of the four Grand Slam championships, with only Carlos Alcaraz’s triumph in their epic Wimbledon final separating the Serbian from the first men’s calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

It is Djokovic’s fifth Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award coming 12 years after he won his first in 2012. Djokovic, who was also named World Sportsman of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2019, recognized fellow Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal, Garbine Muguruza, Martina Navratilova and Carlos Alcaraz at the historic Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid.

"There's some incredible tennis players in the building tonight, Rafa, Carlos, Garbine, Martina, some incredible people that have made history of this sport and yes, we are individual athletes from individual sports,” Djokovic said. “But I think we will all agree that every success we owe to our families, every success we owe to our teams.

“My family is here with me tonight, my parents, my brothers, my wife, and I would like to also send a big thank you to my team that is not here today but they've been instrumental in my success in the 2023 that was one of the best season's I've ever had in my life.”

King of clay Rafael Nadal and Grand Slam king Djokovic have created the most prolific rivalry in ATP history.

Fittingly, both champions were honored in Madrid on Monday night.

The FundaciĆ³n Rafa Nadal (Rafa Nadal Foundation) was honored with the Laureus Sport for Good Award.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal and his wife, Mery, were on hand to accept the award. The couple have been devoted to the Foundation, which supports more than 300 programs globally.

The Rafa Nadal Foundation offers opportunity to children in economically-challenged communities in both Spain and India, through its education and sports programs that currently serve about 1,000 young people.

Nadal, who launched the foundation with his family back in 2010, has won five Laureus Awards himself in three different categories over the years, including Sportsman of the Year, Breakthrough of the Year and Comeback of the Year.


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Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz, the 2023 Laureus Breakthrough of the Year Award winner, presented that award to Jude Bellingham, who plays for Real Madrid, Alcaraz’s favorite football team.


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If there was a Laureus Aware for Best Dressed Couple surely it would go to Katie Boulter and Alex de Minaur, looking resplendent together.

Wheelchair tennis champion Diede de Groot made history as the second wheelchair tennis star, following legendary Esther Vergeer (2002 and 2008) to earn the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award.

In honoring de Groot, the Laureus World Sports Awards noted her phenomenal 2023 season:, “the Dutchwoman earned the Award following a historic 2023 in which she extended her run without defeat to 127 matches, claiming a third successive calendar Grand Slam – a feat unmatched in the history of tennis.”


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