NOVAK Djokovic says being able to look up at his son Stefan after capping off his remarkable career recovery with a stunning fourth Wimbledon crown was the happiest part of his entire fairytale campaign.

The problem is the All England Lawn Tennis Club's famous traditional rules almost prevented the iconic moment from ever happening.

Stefan, 3, was locked out of Wimbledon's centre court during Djokovic's victory over Kevin Anderson on Monday morning because of the tournament's strict rules surrounding babies and children under the age of five.

Djokovic's son could only be brought into the centre court arena after his dad had come out on top in the third set tie-break - but the first time he looked up to his player's box after pulling off his first grand slam victory since the French Open in 2016, Novak would not have seen his son beaming back at him.



It wasn't until the trophy presentation that Stefan was able to realise his dad was down on the grass below about to be crowned Wimbledon's gentleman's singles champion of 2018.

From there Stefan stole the show, melting hearts around the world as he pointed down at his father with a cheeky grin after realising it was in fact his old man that everyone was applauding.

It also just happened to occur when the cameras of the world were on him.

Images of Stefan joining the crowd in applauding his father soon led to questions about why he wasn't sighted before the presentations.

Then the ugly truth came out.

Stefan is just the latest in a long line of player's children who have missed the opportunity to watch their parents play.

Even for exhibition matches on the senior's tour, players' kids were reportedly barred.



The rules behind patron entry into the Wimbledon Championships states babies and children under five can be brought onto the outside courts, but not the main stadiums.

"We recommend that babes in arms and pushchairs are not brought to The Championships as the grounds are large and crowded," the rules state.

"A ticket is not required for those under five.

"Babes in arms and children under five are not allowed into Show Courts (Centre, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, 12 & 18).

"A limited number of baby changing facilities are available but there are no facilities for mothers to 'express' milk."

Djokovic himself played the perfect role model in respecting the All England Club's rules - but he did point out the fact that his son wasn't allowed to enter the court during the match without being asked about it.

"It feels amazing. For the first time in my life, I have someone screaming, 'Daddy, daddy' as I've done it," Djokovic said on centre court.


The champ is here.
The champ is here.

"There's a little boy right there who's come in and ruled the roost.

"He couldn't watch matches live because he was too young but we were hoping if this happens he'd be here to witness it - and there he is.

"He wasn't allowed into the matches because he is under five, but we were hoping if this happened, if I hold the trophy, he can be there to witness it, so I cannot be happier.

"I can't be happier. I am emotional for him being there and my whole team.

"He was by far the best sparring partner I had in last couple of weeks."

His emotion at making a perfect return from hisn dark chapter of sliding down the ATP rankings was juxtaposed completely by the moment he could win tennis' most prestigious title in front of his son for the first time.

His raw emotion was immediately obvious for all to see - but the public interest was much more interested in the moment of pure joy that Stefan realised his dad was waving up to him from the winner's dais.

Djokovic said during the presentation that his son was the inspiration behind his stunning return to the grand slam winners' list.

Djokovic, who also has a 10-month-old daughter with wife Jelena, also admitted his son had been the major factor driving him during his comeback from post- Australian Open elbow surgery in February.

"Actually, I didn't talk about it but it was one of, if not the biggest, motivation I've had for this Wimbledon this year," said the now-four-time SW19 men's champion.

"I was visualising, imagining this moment of him coming to the stands, cherishing this moment with my wife and me and everyone. It's hard to describe.

"I never had him in the box watching the tennis match. I was hoping that Wimbledon can be that tournament because he's big enough now I think to stay quiet maybe for 30 minutes or so

"There are special rules here so we have to respect them.

"Roger (Federer) had his girls and his boys as well, I think, last year and the years that he won at the trophy ceremony, so I was hoping I can have Stefan, too."

"He was not there til the very moment when I was walking to get an interview. He walked in. So that was just a moment that I will carry inside of my heart forever."

- with AAP

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