Maja Ognjenovic (source:

39-year-old playmaker Maja Ognjenovic and her Savino Del Bene Scandicci teammates are about to embark on a quest for the club’s first-ever Italian title, starting the club’s first-ever participation in a Lega Pallavolo Femminile Serie A final on Wednesday. By winning the Italian championship title for the first time, the legendary Serbian athlete hopes to reach yet another important milestone in her already long and glorious career.

Maja Ognjenovic has been a symbol of the women's national team of Serbia for years. She played when Serbia won the first major international medal in their history, the 2006 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship bronze. She played when Serbia conquered the World Championship title in 2018. She was not on the squad, when Serbia won their second world title in 2022, but she returned in 2023 to help the team earn silver at the CEV European Championship and book a spot at the 2024 Olympic Games by finishing second at the FIVB Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier in Ningbo. Her courage, audacity and unique view on the game made her one of the best setters of all time and a true leader of the Blue Ladies.

Ognjenovic, who will turn 40 during the Olympics in Paris this summer, has made it to a total of 17 podiums at major world-level or continental-level competitions with the women’s national team, collecting six gold, five silver and six bronze medals. In addition to the two World Championship medals, the 183-cm-tall playmaker claimed Rio 2016 Olympic silver and Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze, silver at the 2015 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Cup, two bronze medals at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in 2011 and 2013, EuroVolley gold in 2011 and 2019, silver in 2007, 2021 and 2023, and bronze in 2015, and three CEV European League titles from 2009 to 2011 and a bronze in 2012. She was named the Best Setter of the European Championships as many as four times, in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019, and of the European League three times, in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The distinguished Serbian athlete has also had a very successful club career so far, having played in some of the world’s strongest national leagues, those of Türkiye, Italy, Poland, Russia, Romania, Greece and Serbia. In addition to numerous domestic trophies and medals, Ognjenovic won the FIVB Volleyball Women’s Club World Championship title in 2016 and bronze in 2022 with Türkiye’s Eczacibasi Dynavit Istanbul, as well as bronze at the 2019 edition of the competition as a player of VakifBank Istanbul. In the CEV Champions League, she earned silver in 2023 and bronze in 2017 with Eczacibasi and silver in 2021 with VakifBank, and she was honoured as the Best Setter of the Final Four in 2015 when she played for Poland’s Chemik Police. In 2022, Ognjenovic picked up her second CEV Cup with Eczacibasi, also claiming the Most Valuable Player recognition.

As of this season, Ognjenovic returned to Italy as a player of Savino Del Bene and helped the club reach the Lega final, but she told Volleyball World in this exclusive interview that she was a bit disappointed, because the team could have done better than the Champions League quarterfinals and the Coppa Italia A1 Frecciarossa semifinals, where they were always eliminated after dramatic five-set battles.

It's your first season back in Italy since 2016. Why did you decide to return to the country after so long and how are you feeling?

“Everyone asks me why I returned to Italy, but for me it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and then we all know how strong the Italian championship is. After seven years in Istanbul I wanted to change and, honestly, I wouldn't have gone to any country, other than Italy. So when the offer from Savino Del Bene Volley arrived, I willingly accepted.”

Outside volleyball, how are you enjoying life in Italy? Whom do you hang out with in your free time?

“I had already visited Florence, but I think it is a city to visit every day. Every time I have a free day I go to the centre and take a tour, I have visited all the museums and places of culture. During my free time I often go out with Sara Alberti and Carol.”

What would make your first season with Savino Del Bene successful?

“I'm sorry because we didn't manage to reach the semifinals of the Champions League. It's a shame because we did well and came really close to our European goal. Everyone then saw how it went during the Final Four of Coppa Italia. I'm not saying that we had bad luck, because we lost to a strong team, but when you lose in the fifth set, there is always a bit of bad luck. Now we know what we have to do in the playoffs and the objective is clear! Conegliano are very strong, but I hope that Savino Del Bene Volley goes as far as possible.”

You have played club volleyball in many different countries. Is there a country where you haven't played, but would very much like to before the end of your career?

“Japan, because it is a country I am in love with.”

You were a 2018 world champion with Serbia, but were not on the squad for the title in 2022. How much more motivated does that make you feel to win the Olympic title in Paris this year?

“For Paris, for the Olympics, it's impossible not to be motivated. We won a silver and a bronze. Now only one more medal is missing.”

In a previous Volleyball World interview three years ago, you said, ‘I feel really good on the court and I have more to give volleyball.’ Do you still feel that way?

“Yes, I still feel the same way.”

Finally, name the six athletes you would like to play with on the volleyball team of your dreams.

“I definitely choose Tijana Boskovic as the opposite, while for the middle blockers I go with two other Serbians such as Stefana Veljkovic and Milena Rasic. As spikers, I would focus on Jordan Larson and Gabriela Braga Guimaraes, aka Gabi. For the role of libero, I choose Silvija Popovic, not because we are friends and teammates in the national team, but because she is truly very good. As for setter, I choose Eleonora Lo Bianco, who I have always liked a lot.”

Boskovic about Ognjenovic