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(LifeSiteNews) — During a Wimbledon victory speech, tennis star Novak Djokovic reminded his Serbian fans of their Christian obligation to forgive.

Thousands of Serbs gathered in their country’s capital city of Belgrade earlier this week to celebrate Djokovic’s seventh Wimbledon title. It is the athlete’s first major victory since the unexpected setback in Australia — the Australian government’s refusal to allow the COVID jab skeptic to play — that interfered with his ability to compete at the beginning of the 2022 season.  

Despite the criticism he received during that time, Djokovic recalled the struggle with charity and encouraged his countrymen to do likewise. (Full video here without subtitles.)

“It is Christian to forgive, and we are Christians,” he said in his speech. “We look, we forgive. Only God and the people around me know what happened; I wouldn’t want to talk about it now and seem like I’m complaining. That all influenced this moment, motivated me, inspired me to return to the paths of old glory, to fight for the biggest trophies in sport.” 

The tennis star addressed his Serbian fans with joy and friendship, stating that the reason he stood before them in victory is because of “Serbian stubbornness, that will to live, to win.” He added that “there is no word that translates it into the English language” and credited them for his victory. 

“Such is our destiny, to always pass a thorny path. But we always say, who knows why it’s good? At the end of every tunnel, there is light, you are that light.” 

Nevertheless, Djokovic did address his misadventure in Australia, where he fought a legal battle and was deported for his views on the COVID-19 inoculations and mandates. His visa was cancelled a few days before he was scheduled to compete in the Australian Open. 

“It’s something that shook me and my family and close people a lot,” Djokovic said about the incident. “The year started in an ugly way for me, what happened in Australia happened, but for months I was followed by the experience, those wrong views and judgments.” 

Djokovic’s refusal to take COVID jabs attracted worldwide attention. According to ESPN, the athlete expected to defend his Australian Open title after receiving a vaccine exemption. However, the exemption was denied, along with his Djokovic’s Australian visa, sparking international debate and a backlash against vaccine mandates in athletics.  

In March, Djokovic withdrew from two U.S. tournaments due to his unvaccinated status. He has made it known that he will continue his stand against COVID jab coercion, even if that keeps him from competing in the U.S. Open in August and September. 

Throughout the criticism of this season, the tennis star has held firm to his Christian faith, refraining from any spiteful condemnation in the aftermath of his victory. Meanwhile, he is looking forward rather than remaining in the past. Recently, Djokovic shared his desire to participate in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. 

“I don’t currently have a limit in my head and a time limit for when I could end my career,” he said. “That topic is forbidden in my team and my family. My great desire is hunger for victories.” 

Jean Mondoro is an editorial intern for LifeSiteNews.