Speaking of prominent Serbs in modern times, let’s reiterate that the inventor, as well as the wife and colleague of the scientist of the 20th Century civilization, were Serbs by origin. Beside such great achievements, let’s add that the authors of the most perfect Calendar (Milutin Milanković) and most perfect Alphabet (Vuk Karadžić) were also Serbs. As we speak, the proclaimed best World athlete is working out and playing to achieve his second Grand Slam in 2019. From a small, today economically insignificant, but vibrant 10-million nation it seems quite enough as contribution to the human civilization…


Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), American scientist of Serbian origin, gave his greatest contribution to science and technological progress of the World as the inventor of the rotating magnetic field in 1881, inventing in the decades to come the AC electricity and the AC engine. His over 700 ingenious inventions were the basis for developing new conditions for industry and radio communication, making him the “Inventor of the 20th century”.

The complete system of production and distribution of electrical energy (generators of high-frequency alternate currents and high-voltage coreless transformer known today as “Tesla Coil”, long-distance wires) are his results of his genius work. Nine out of 13 patents used for the first ever hydro-power plant in Niagara Falls were based on the base of Tesla’s alternate currents. His name was given to the SI unit for magnetic induction (“Tesla”). Tesla had also invented radio-waves, X-rays, the basics of wireless transfer of energy, as well as many technological novelties that we are still failing to understand and have become legendary, such as the “Death Ray” – “a weapon to end up all wars” or the car moving as “perpetuum mobile” on geomagnetic power.

Born in the family of a Serbian Orthodox priest within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, now in Croatia, Nikola Tesla was without any doubt the greatest Serb that ever lived, celebrated by all of the World’s nations. Tesla led a life fully dedicated to science and his inventions, with an utter disregard of women, money and power, considering his life task was aimed at bringing a benefit to Mankind as a whole. On the occasion when both countries celebrated the 150th anniversary of his birth, a Tesla Memorial was opened in Smiljane, Croatia, where he was born, the while Belgrade Airport in Serbia was named after him.


Mileva Marić (1875–1948), after marrying Albert called Mileva Marić-Einstein, was a Serbian mathematician and physicist, born in Titel, today Serbia. She was the only woman among Albert Einstein’s fellow students at Zürich’s Polytechnic and was the second woman to finish a full program of study at the Department of Mathematics and Physics. Today experts agree upon Mileva having been a better mathematician than Albert, thus contributing substantially to the calculations that brought Albert to his great scientific achievements, firstly his theory of special relativity in 1905.

Whether Mileva participated in Einstein’s theories or not, it cannot be denied that she was extraordinary for many reasons. Despite being one of the first female physicists in the world, the importance of her work has not been evaluated. Her story illuminates the plight of intellectual women during the first half of the 20th century. Anyway, Mileva was a physicist and her talent for the subject makes it conceivable that she and Albert worked together. Their son Hans Albert told to a biographer about seeing the couple “work together in the evenings at the same table”.  In one letter, Albert wrote to Mileva: “How happy and proud will I be when the two of us together will have brought our work on relative motion to a victorious conclusion!”

Mileva and Albert were collaborators and a married couple, with a daughter – Lieserl and two sons – Hans Albert and Eduard. They separated in 1914, with Mileva taking the boys and returning to Zürich from Berlin. They divorced in 1919 and the same year Einstein married again. When he received the Nobel Prize in 1921, he transferred the money to Mileva, chiefly to support their sons. For the institutional care of their son Eduard, diagnosed with schizophrenia, Mileva sold two of the three houses she and Albert had purchased. He made regular contributions to his sons’ care, which he continued after emigrating to the United States with his second wife (Elsa, his first cousin).


Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787-1864) was a self-taught man of literature, in his young age scribe/secretary to Prince Miloš Obrenović, ruler of Serbia in the first half of the 18th century, later to emigrate to Vienna, where he worked his whole life to reform the Serbian language and its ancient Cyrillic alphabet, collect medieval folk poems and tales, as well as translate significant books into Serbian language. Thanks to Vuk, as he is popularly called in Serbia, the Serbian language, with its Ancient Slavic roots, despite having a complex grammar is famous for its simplicity in writing.

Now it is written exactly as it is spoken and the words read as they are written, one of the few World 100% phonetic alphabets. In the first grade of Grammar school the pupils are taught to “Write as they speak and read as it is written”, a slogan that gives to all of those using the Serbian language to not only express themselves in a distinct way, but also use these simple rules to understand better and learn foreign languages, benefitting from the fact that, thanks to Karadžić’s reform matured by 1850, each of the 30 sounds of the Serbian language has its corresponding letter, a feature still unique in the World.

Since the creation of Yugoslavia in 1918, Serbs use the Latin alphabet as well, being in such way a unique case in Europe – a nation that equally uses two alphabets, fully acknowledging the Centuries-long geopolitical position of Serbia – halfway between East and West, but at the same time able to feel close to both sides…


Novak Djoković (born 22 May 1987), at this moment certainly the most famous Serb in the World, is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No.1 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Djoković has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles, five ATP Finals titles, 32 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, 12 ATP Tour 500 titles, and has held the No.1 spot in the ATP rankings for over 240 weeks. In majors, he has won a record seven Australian Open titles, four Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title. Following his victory at the 2016 French Open, he became the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces. He is the first and only male player to have won all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments.

Djoković is the first Serbian player to be ranked  No.1 by the ATP and the first male player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title. He is a six-time ITF World Champion and a five-time ATP year-end No. 1 ranked player. Djokovic has won numerous awards, including the 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2019 Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year and the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award.

By all of these achievements Nole (as the fans call him) is a role-model for all the Serbs and an example of how an individual from a small country can get on top of the World. Especially after a troublesome period related to an injury he suffered two years ago, his comeback as No.1 achieved in great style last year, at just 31 years of age made him the best Serb today, whose success improved the once compromised image of the nation, especially in the Western hemisphere.


Emir Nemanja Kusturica (born 24 November 1954), is a Serbian/Bosnian filmmaker, actor, musician and writer. He has been recognized for several internationally acclaimed feature films, as well as his projects in town-building. He has competed at the Cannes Film Festival on five occasions and won the Palme d’Or twice (for When Father Was Away on Business and Underground), as well as the Best Director prize for Time of the Gypsies.

He has also won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Arizona Dream and a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival for Black Cat, White Cat. In addition he was also named Commander of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In mid-1986, Kusturica, already an accomplished film director at the time, started playing bass guitar in Zabranjeno Pušenje (No Smoking Orchestra), a Sarajevan punk rock outfit that had been the main driving force behind the New Primitivism movement during the 80’s.  The band was rather successful in the 90’s, becoming an international attraction with their concerts worldwide, performing a slightly different kind of Ethno-Rock style than Bregović’s one. Smoking Orchestra frontman Nele Karajlić several times had repeated that “Kusturica is unique for having learned to play bass and rhythm guitars while performing in front of tens of thousands of enthusiastic audiences”.

In the 90’s Kusturica received a gift from the Montenegrin authorities – the buiding of the former railroad in Herceg Novi on the seaside of the Boka Kotorska Bay, Transforming it into a hotel and cultural center, same as in the previous cases. On St. George’s Day in 2005, he was baptised into the Serbian Orthodox Church as Nemanja Kusturica at the Savina monastery near Herceg Novi, Montenegro.

To his critics who considered this the final betrayal of his Muslim/Bosniak roots, he replied that: “My father was an atheist and he always described himself as a Serb. OK, maybe we were Muslim for 250 years, but we were Orthodox before that and deep down we were always Serbs, religion cannot change that.” To those who criticized him for choosing the name of Nemanja, same as the medieval unifier of medieval Serbian feuds into the first medieval Serbian state in 1170, Kusturica replied: “My Muslim name was Emir, that means “Prince”, while I have chosen to be baptized by the name “Nemanja”, who had been a Grand-Duke, by far a lower title than “Prince”. Furthermore, “Nemanja” literally derives from “having nothing”.

Since the mid-2000s, Kusturica’s primary residence has been in Drvengrad, a wooden town built for his film Life Is a Miracle, in the Mokra Gora region of Western Serbia. Later on he managed to build Kamengrad in Bosnia (Republika Srpska) in honor of the only Yugoslav literature Nobel prize for literature in 1961 – Ivo Andrić. There Kusturica is the Chairman of the Academy he had founded, as well as member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of the Republika Srpska.

Despite the aforementioned conflict of religion, Kusturica refused to see himself as either a Bosniak or Serb. Instead, he had continued to insist that he was simply a Yugoslav.



Goran Bregović (born 22 March 1950) is a recording artist by origin from Bosnia and Herzegovina, belonging to Yugoslavian and Serbian culture. He is one of the most internationally known modern musicians and composers of the Balkans, and is one of the few former Yugoslav musicians who has performed at major international venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and L’Olympia.

A Sarajevo native, rose to continental prominence as the main creative mind and lead guitarist of Bijelo dugme (White Button), widely considered as one of the most popular recording acts ever to exist in the post WWII Yugoslavia and one of the most important bands of the Yugoslav rock scene. Moreover, Bijelo dugme had a specific impact on Yugoslavian society, especially the young generations, very similar to The Beatles had worldwide a decade earlier, changing the customs and ways that meant a kind of rebellion against the older generations, whose values the young ones were not anymore considering as their mere successors.

After Bijelo Dugme split up, he started to compose for films. Among his better known film scores are three of Emir Kusturica’s films (Time of the GypsiesArizona Dream, and Underground). Unfortunately, the two once friends and artistic collaborators are now not in touch for a lot of reasons, mostly their strong Egos.

Bregović’s compositions, extending Balkan musical inspirations to innovative extremes, draw upon European classicism and Balkan rhythms. His music carries Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Romani, Romanian, Serbian, Albanian, Italian and Turkish themes and is a fusion of popular music with traditional polyphonic music from the Balkans, tango, and brass bands. Bregović, during his 5 decade long career, has composed for many critically acclaimed singers.

Having escaped from Sarajevo civil war and chosen to live in Paris, as well as primarily in Belgrade, and afterwards in Zagreb, Bregović is today the owner of 30 real estate venues in quite a few countries, leading a very nomadic life and active career.

Bregović has described himself as Yugonostalgic. Son to a Croatian father and a Serbian mother, married to a Muslim wife, he prefers to avoid delving into politics. In 2009, he said, “Yugoslavia is the intersection of so many worlds: Orthodox, Catholic, Muslim. With music, I don’t have to represent anyone, except myself — because I speak the first language of the world, the one everyone understands: music.