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  Tuesday, 10 July, 2001, 19:50 GMT 20:50 UK
Goran celebrates his best day
Goran Ivanisevic in Croatia
Goran salutes the crowd as he arrives
Newly-crowned Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic landed in his home town of Split on Tuesday evening, sparking scenes of jubilation.

His arrival drew more than 100,000 people to the city centre and the 29-year-old received a hero's welcome.


This is the best day in my life, this is going to be the best night of my life
Goran Ivanisevic

The crowd had roared as a private plane carrying Ivanisevic from England made a celebratory circuit above the city's waterfront, the 'Riva'.

"This is the best day in my life, this is going to be the best night of my life," an elated Ivanisevic told a television interviewer.

Tribute

Many young men interviewed by state television claimed to be Goran's friend.

One said: "People came here to greet a great sportsman and a great personality. Ivanisevic deserved this victory."

Many wore T-shirts saying "I am a genius", a famous quote Ivanisevic gave to shrug off critics who claimed he was a serve-only player.

Toni Kukoc, a three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, said Ivanisevic's success was one of the greatest achievements in Croatia's 10-year history.

"I take Goran's success as my personal achievement. This is as big as it can get," Kukoc said.

"We sportsmen know all too well how difficult it is to achieve something like this."

Toni Kukoc has paid tribute to Ivanisevic
Toni Kukoc has paid tribute to Ivanisevic

At the city airport, Ivanisevic was hugged by his mother, who did not travel to England because he had asked her not to and his sister Srdjana.

Deputy Prime Minister Zeljka Antunovic said Ivanisevic had done a wonderful thing, not only for himself but for the whole of Croatia.

"He showed us that when one has enough persistence and belief in oneself, anything is possible," Antunovic said.

Ivanisevic was taken on board a ship to sail into the harbour, where the party was to take place.

Ivanisevic's heart-stopping final victory over Australia's Pat Rafter on Monday sent hundreds of people into the streets.

Some jumped into the sea with joy, others drove around in cars or on motor-cycles.


He showed us that when one has enough persistence and belief in oneself, anything is possible
Zeljka Antunovic, Croatian Deputy Prime Minister

Two prominent local journalists shaved off their moustaches, while another vowed to cut his hair for the first time in 10 years in honour of the win.

Ivanisevic's family was swamped with telephone calls and telegrams of support, with one coming from the Hague war crimes tribunal where nine Bosnian Croats await trial.

"We are the proudest people in the world," the nine said through one of their lawyers. "Thank you for the historic success in the name of the Croatian Homeland."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic
"I didn't sleep a bit"
BBC Sport's Daniela Relph
"This is a city celebrating it's Wimbledon champion"
Croatian journalist Toma Dragicvic
"The whole country watched Goran win Wimbledon"
Wimbledon site

Men's singles final

Ladies' singles final

Henman's defeat

Other finals

Scores and seeds

SOL at Wimbledon

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See also:

11 Jul 01 | Europe
10 Jul 01 | Wimbledon 2001
09 Jul 01 | Europe
10 Jul 01 | Media reports
10 Jul 01 | Wimbledon 2001
11 Jul 01 | Photo Galleries
Links to more Wimbledon 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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