Bangladeshi girl,tennis and the origins of #NoleFam - Part 2

Moving to London, Wimbledon and a lot of Novak. Part 2 of my love letter to Novak.

Bangladeshi girl,tennis and the origins of #NoleFam - Part 2

Moving to London, Wimbledon and a lot of Novak. Part 2 of my love letter to Novak.


Photo: Adriatik Illustration

I moved to London in 2016 to pursue my undergraduate education. My father’s farewell words to me were, “Now you are in the city of your dreams and so I hope you finally get to meet Djoković.” We laughed about this, but little did I realise that it would come true in just 2 months’ time after I left my homeland. For my birthday my best friend bought me tickets to the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. At that time, I lived an hour away from where the matches were played and yet I went there three times that week, just hoping that I would get a glimpse of my hero. On the first day I saw him through a glass window. On the second day I watched him practice through another glass window. Then on the final day, a guard told me that if I waited around the dock, I might just get lucky and my, did I get lucky.

He walked out from the boat and on to the dock. I am not sure if it was the cold breeze of the winter night or nervousness, but I froze. I watched as he greeted every single person who was waiting there and finally stopped in front of me. We took a selfie and somehow, I mustered the courage to tell him who I was. Almost immediately he recognised me and reached out to give me a hug. He thanked me for all the support throughout the years but most importantly he asked me how I was and how I was settling in London. We talked briefly and then he went into the venue. That was one of the best days of my life.  

Throughout the years as I have grown, I have continued supporting him, tuned in to as many matches as I could and went to watch as many of his matches as I could save up for. Adulthood is hard, especially when so much of your time is taken away with work, education and just surviving. I am not as active as I would like to be when it comes to running my page as I did once back in the day, but I hope that does not come across as if my love for Novak has lessened. No, in fact, it grows stronger every day.

One thing I take a lot of pride in about NoleFam is how close knit our community is. We have navigated storms others would not dip their foot in. We have made lifelong friends out of strangers on the internet. Some of the people I have met because of Novak are people I would trust with my life and I would go to war to protect. That is special. It really is more than just a fanbase. It is a family.

Last year I finally managed to get tickets to Wimbledon and later my friend who I met because of Novak, Julie, helped me get tickets to the final. As I watched Novak lift the coveted gold-plated trophy under the British summer’s sun, dressed in all white on a perfectly cut grass court, I teared up a little. That was his, at the time, record equalling grand slam victory, something so many said would not be achieved. I took a deep breath and thought, in the midst of all the things in life, all the ups and downs, all the changes and growing up, my love for Novak has been the only thing that has remained constant.

I can assure you; it will always remain constant.

NoleFam at the Laver Cup in London
Photo: Raiyan Rafiq
Raiyan with Novak Đoković
Photo: Raiyan Rafiq
Laver Cup in London
Photo: Raiyan Rafiq
Novak representing Team Europe at the Laver Cup
Photo: Raiyan Rafiq
'The Djoker' - Novak being Novak
Photo: Raiyan Rafiq
Raiyan Rafiq



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