Novak Djokovic's family, who are still in Serbia while the World No. 1 is in the thick of things in Australia, came to his defense in the wee hours of Friday at a press conference they put together for his benefit.
Djokovic's brother, father and mother spoke from the Novak Cafe & Restaurant in Belgrade to protest against Australia's treatment of the tennis superstar. The World No. 1 is currently being held at The Park Hotel in Melbourne, pending further developments to his visa status.
January 7 is when Orthodox Christians in Serbia celebrate their Christmas and Djordje Djokovic, Novak's brother, made use of the opportunity to invoke strong religious symbolism.
Djordje likened his brother's struggles to those suffered by Jesus Christ himself, saying that Australia was trying to "crucify" the 20-time Grand Slam champion and humiliate him.
"Jesus was crucified on the cross, but he is still alive among us," Djordje said. "They are trying to crucify and belittle Novak and throw him to his knees.”
Djordje also condemned the accommodation offered to Djokovic, saying he was taken to a sub-par hotel and "treated like a criminal." He further added that the Serb was not even allowed to take his belongings with him.
"He was treated like a criminal while he is a healthy and decent man," Djordje said. "He was taken to a migrant hotel to a dirty room without any belongings, which he was told would be returned to him upon his return to Europe.”
Djordje also relayed a message Novak Djokovic had shared with him. In the message, Djokovic stuck to the religious theme and expounded on how everything that is happening is being watched by God.
The World No. 1 also stressed that he will stand by his "morals" and "ethics" as they will lead him to "spiritual ascension."
"God sees everything. Moral and ethics as the greatest ideals are the shining stars towards spiritual ascension," Djokovic wrote to his brother. "My grace is spiritual and theirs is material wealth.”
"Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak" - Srdjan Djokovic
Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan, added to what his younger son said by likening the attack on Novak to an attack on all of Serbia.
"Novak is Serbia and Serbia is Novak,” Srdjan said. “They are trampling over Serbia and by doing that, they are trampling on the Serbian people.
Srdjan directed his attack at the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison. Using the informal 'you' in Serbian, Srdjan called out Morrison by saying the Australian could not understand where Djokovic and his family were coming from.
“You, famous Prime Minister of the faraway naturally beautiful country, are behaving according to your own principles. But they have nothing to do with us and our principles,” Srdjan said. “We are humans, and you, sir, are not."
Djokovic's mother, Dijana Djokovic, also gave her thoughts on the matter. Dijana felt that her son was being used as a pawn to score political points by the Australian authorities.
She added that Djokovic had the backing of his family and the entire country, but bemoaned the Australian government's intention to "clip his wings."
"This is now a political point. It is scandalous," Dijana said. "My son is in a dirty room, without contact with us. I hope they won’t clip his wings as they had intended."