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Buddhist Monks Cheer on Tennis Star and Meditator Novak Djokovic


Before the Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic won his fourth consecutive Wimbledon championship on Sunday, he spent time in a Thai Buddhist temple located not far from the iconic sports complex where the tennis tournament took place. The temple, Wat Buddhapadipa, was completed in the 1980s as the first traditional Thai temple in the United Kingdom. Today it sits next to the Council of Thai Monks of the United Kingdom and hosts a variety of cultural and Buddhist events throughout the week.

Over the years, Djokovic has become a regular at Wat Buddhapadipa, usually practicing meditation in the morning before the temple becomes busy. Monks at the temple have described him as “our friend” and credit the calm mind that arises from regular meditation practice as a key to Djokovic’s success. (The Times)

“I want him to be the champion,” said Venerable Piyobhaso, the senior monk in charge of the temple ahead of the final match. (The Times)

Venerable Piyobhaso. From

The champion, having now won a total of seven tournaments at Wimbledon, has long been known to meditate between matches. After the match against Nick Kyrgios of Australia, Kyrgios stated:

. . . he was just so composed. That’s what I was just thinking to myself. In big moments, it just felt like he was never rattled. I feel like that’s his greatest strength: He just never looks rattled. He just looks completely within himself the whole time. Didn’t look like he was playing over-aggressive, even though it felt like he was playing big.


In 2015, ahead of his victory at Wimbledon, Djokovic reportedly said: “I try to put myself only in the present moment, not fight against the thoughts and the pressure and the excitement, but just acknowledge them and also try to keep my composure and calm. I try to just be in the moment and enjoy.” (Eastern Eye)

In 2013, ahead of a loss to British player Andy Murray, Djokovic spoke of his visits to the temple:

It’s very calm and quiet, obviously. I stay in a house which is very nearby. This is a place which we all visit. We like Wimbledon and London in general because there’s so many beautiful parks and nature, places which you can call getaways, where during these two weeks of a hectic Grand Slam atmosphere that goes around, so many people, obviously there is huge amount of pressure and stress and everything involved, so you need to have a place where you know you can switch off and recharge your batteries.


Speaking last week about how meditation works for Djokovic, Ven. Piyobhaso said: “He didn’t attend the classes provided by the temple but he just meditated on his own. He spent about 30 minutes or an hour on the grounds and he preferred to spend time in the park area and the lake.” (Eastern Eye)

According to Piyobhaso, “[Djokovic] said that meditation helps with his tennis playing. And because of meditation he could keep focused on whatever he was doing at that moment.” He added: “When he plays tennis, he just focuses on game to game, he didn’t plan ahead. Just focus on the game, that’s what he gained from meditation. It worked.” (Eastern Eye)

Djokovic is an Orthodox Christian. This is the most common religion of his native Serbia, which was 84.6 per cent Orthodox Christian, 5 per cent Catholic, 3.1 per cent Muslim, 1 per cent atheist, 1 per cent Protestant, and 3.1 per cent unaffiliated, according to data published in 2015.


Piyobhaso added: “Djokovic made it clear that he is not a Buddhist but he likes meditation and visited the temple. What meditation means is you’re trying to develop the quality of the mind, trying to build up concentration, feel relaxed and peaceful.” (Eastern Eye)

Sue Stevens, 73, a Thai woman who lives in Richmond is quoted as saying: “Every day when it’s tennis season we sit down and watch. He only comes to the temple occasionally when it’s important. I still support him.” (Eastern Eye)

See more

Cheers at the Wimbledon temple where Novak Djokovic found his Zen (The Times)
Novak Djokovic defeats Nick Kyrgios to win seventh Wimbledon title (ESPN)
Monks in Wimbledon Buddhist temple where Novak Djokovic meditates cheer him on (Eastern Eye)
Djokovic, Murray face question time over dogs, politicians, Buddhists (Inquirer)

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1 year ago

A rather sad article since Djokovič is not the best example of a Buddhist sportsman.