At the French Open, Djokovic Storms the Court and Into Controversy, Again

The five countries that control the peacekeeping force in the region — the United States, France, Italy, Germany and Britain — asked Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leadership not to send in security forces to take control of town municipal buildings following the elections. It did anyway, a move that the five countries condemned. The Serbs protested the takeover, sparking the violent clashes that wounded 30 members of the NATO peacekeeping force, known as KFOR (Kay-phor).

“Both parties need to take full responsibility for what happened and prevent any further escalation, rather than hide behind false narratives,” Maj. Gen. Angelo Michele Ristuccia, the KFOR mission commander, said in a statement.

President Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia claimed that 52 Serbs were injured in the clashes, three seriously. He put the Serbian Army on high alert and sent his troops to the border.

Watching events unfold from Paris as he prepared for the French Open, Djokovic searched for a way to express two emotions — a desire for peace and the belief that Kosovo is part of Serbia. He has often spoken of the traumatic experience of growing up in a war zone, with bombs falling not far from his home during the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s. He has said that anyone who has lived through that experience could never be in favor of war and violence. He used those words in January, when controversy found him at the Australian Open after his father, who was born in Kosovo, was caught on video posing with a fan of his son’s who was holding a Russian flag.

In 2008, when Djokovic was a young player breaking into the sport’s elite ranks, he recorded a video expressing solidarity with protesters in Belgrade after Kosovo declared independence.

“Of course, I’m aware that a lot of people would disagree,” he said as midnight closed in Wednesday. “But it is what it is. It’s something that I stand for.”

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