When Novak Djokovic informed friends he was retiring tennis in 2018, there was no going back.
With his elbow issue refusing to heal and startling first-round losses to Taro Daniel and Benoit Paire in Indian Wells and Miami, it appeared Djokovic's fire had died down.
Djokovic's wife Jelena related the story in a 2020 In Depth with Graham Bensinger interview.
“He told me he's quitting. The truth. He lost Miami. After a devastating loss, he gathered us and said, "Guys, I'm done," and I was like, what?" He said yes, she said.
Then he told Eduardo to talk to my sponsors. Be clear with them. I may stop for six months, a year, or forever.
“Just let them stay if they want. I'm fine if they don't. I want to make sure everyone agrees.
The tennis world was unaware that Djokovic was thus close to retiring, and his short break with his family after his decision was crucial.
I love tennis and kept taking the kids to play, and he showed up the third and fourth day and saw me with this old tennis machine playing with Stefan.