Everything is possible
First the country split apart. Then came the bombs. But out of the rubble emerged three top players who've made Serbians embrace tennis like never before.
Jelena Jankovic has a large 2 on the back of her red "I love Madrid" T-shirt, and mixed feelings about it. The shirt is a WTA Tour-issued prop for a press conference in Jankovic's honor at the Acura Classic in San Diego, and the digit means she's the second player (behind No. 1 Justine Henin) to qualify for November's season-ending WTA Tour championships in Spain. But if there's one thing Jankovic shares with her Serbian countrymen, it's pride; being second best doesn't sit well. "As a nation, we are satisfied only with being No. 1," she says. "If we play, we want to be the best or we don't want to play at all."And yet 15,000 Serbs flocked to Nikola Pasic Square in Belgrade on June 10 to welcome Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic home from the French Open -- not because any of them had finished on top, but because they had conquered the belief that tiny, war-torn Serbia lacked the tools to produce elite-level tennis players. At Roland Garros, all three made the semifinals; Ivanovic lost in the final to Henin. For once Serbia was thrilled with runner-up results, probably because the country's sports fans have had little to party about since 2002, when 100,000 people celebrated its victory at the world basketball championships.