The 1999 bombing of Serbia lasted almost three months, but a young Novak Djokovic made the most of it. With school closed, Novak played tennis all day, and all night he huddled with his family in a basement bomb shelter. And always he was dreaming of Wimbledon. This Sunday on 60 Minutes, Bob Simon is there when Djokovic returns home - Wimbledon trophy in hand, a young man whose dream has come true in a country that desperately needed a hero.
The following is a script from "Novak Djokovic" which aired on March 25, 2012. Bob Simon is the correspondent. Draggan Mihailovich, producer.
We want our athletes to amaze us, our entertainers to amuse us. But one guy who can do both? Doesn't happen very often. Novak Djokovic kicked off the new tennis season in January by winning an epic final in the Australian Open against Rafael Nadal. It took Djokovic five hours and 53 minutes to do it. Last year, he won three Grand Slam tournaments. Seasons don't get much better than that.
From his earliest days on the circuit, he not only wowed the crowds with his ground strokes. He had them howling over his on-court impersonations of other tennis stars. But not everyone was laughing. Some of those champions were asking: Where did this clown come from? The answer: Serbia; a small Balkan country, whose only claim to fame or infamy in recent decades has been the brutal role it played in the wars that broke up the former Yugoslavia. So when Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title last July, it was a gift to the nation.
And the nation took to the streets to greet Novak Djokovic when he brought the trophy back to Belgrade. It seemed all of Serbia emerged from years of darkness to salute someone who made them proud.
Novak Djokovic: It was amazing. I felt that all the city was on the streets. It was, it was incredible, incredible...
Bob Simon: You know why you felt that? Because all the city was.
Novak Djokovic: Because it was.
There were multitudes on the bridges. On the ground, there was brandy.
[Novak Djokovic: This is the city!]
The central square of the city was teeming with joy, 100,000 people. Novak was hailed as the most glorious Serbian hero since...well, since a very long time.
Novak Djokovic: It was like a paradise. It was like a dream. Your people are waiting for you in the square. You realize your two biggest goals in life, your dreams to win Wimbledon, to become number one in a couple days' time. I mean, I could not ask for more.
Novak couldn't have asked for more from his 2011 season. He captured the U.S. Open last September to accompany titles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. To begin the year, he won his first 41 matches, one of the best starts ever recorded.
Novak Djokovic: It was incredible. It was historical. It will be in the history books. I'll remember it as best six months that I ever had.
He rocked the sport's royalty -- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer -- and unlike them, he seemed to be having fun.
That a player from a small, war-torn country with little tennis tradition could become the game's superstar? Who could have seen it coming?