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From Our Own Correspondent Podcast

Serbia and Djokovic: More Than a Matter of Tennis


When Novak Djokovic landed in Melbourne, few could have imagined that his impending encounters on the tennis court would be upstaged by a legal battle, one which then prompted a row between his country and Australia. After immigration officials held the Serb player in a hotel, Djokovic’s father said his son was being “crucified”. Then Serbia’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the player had been deliberately lured to Australia in order to humiliate him, as part of a “political game.” Guy Delauney explains that the affair has touched a raw nerve in Serbia, with an importance way beyond the tennis court.

While the war of words was going on between Serbia and Australia, the government of Cameroon was trying to keep everyone’s attention focused on sport, and not on politics. The country is hosting the Africa-wide football tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations, a chance for the country to shine on the international stage. Like any contest, the Cup provides an opportunity for all countries to unite and rally behind their national team. However, there is a distinct shortage of unity among some people of this West African nation. Cameroon has suffered a long-running separatist insurgency in the English-speaking part of the country, and that was where James Copnall went to watch one of the games.

You might think Ukraine was used to conflict; it suffered some of the worst casualties of the Second World War, and previously lost millions to murder and starvation, as Stalin imposed communist rule on a population which often resisted it. Today, around a hundred thousand Russian troops are massed on the Ukrainian border, and when Zeinab Badawi visited the capital Kiev, she found a very different mood to what she experienced on previous trips.

What have sectarian murders in Northern Ireland got in common with the dawn of democracy in Czechoslovakia, and the start of negotiations to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? The answer is that all of them were reported on by Mary Hockaday, whose career of more than three decades at the BBC has just come to an end. Her departure has left her reflecting on time, and how the world changes with it.

The housing market has been rather perky this past year, so it might be a good time to sell your home, but not if you’re a princess, you don’t actually want to move out, and the property in question is a Seventeenth Century palace. Such though is the fate of one of Rome’s more unusual inhabitants, living in one of the city’s more distinctive buildings. The Villa Aurora will go under the auctioneer’s hammer next week, and is valued at more than four hundred million pounds. David Willey has been a regular visitor