Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic says he had “mental hurdles” to overcome as he fought back from injury problems.
The Serb has written an emotional letter to his friends and family after beating Kevin Anderson to claim his first Grand Slam title in two years.
He credited a “golden balance between tennis, priorities and family” with helping him refocus.
“I was trying to find solutions somewhere else and solution was always inside of me,” the 31-year-old wrote.
Djokovic celebrated winning his 13th major title with his three-year-old son, Stefan.
“My whole – more or less – was about tennis until I became a father and husband,” he said.
“I have imagined and prayed that one day I would win a Grand Slam trophy in front of my child.”
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‘I am not ashamed of being vulnerable’
Djokovic first struggled with an elbow problem in 2016, subsequently taking two spells away from the ATP Tour, and dropped out of the world’s top 20 after a poor start to the year.
However, he reached the final at Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon and beat world number one Rafael Nadal on his way to the title at SW19.
Now ranked 10th in the world, he wrote that he had little motivation during the 2017 season, and that there were “doubtful moments” where his career could have gone a different way.
“One day I will share more in depth what kind of challenges I had to face and how I felt,” the former world number one continued.
“I was vulnerable so many times in the last few years. And I am still vulnerable. I am not ashamed of it.
“In contrary, it makes me more true to myself and others. It allows me to dig deep and analyse what is truly happening inside of me.”
Djokovic also said that having his son, Stefan, present for his Wimbledon victory was “one of my biggest dreams”.
“When I thought that moment could not get any better, he shouted “Daddy, Daddy!” That’s when I completely melted,” he added.
“I am so grateful to have experienced that.”