Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Novak Djokovic reveals colleagues’ perceptions ‘hurt a lot’ after Australian vaccination saga

Novak Djokovic said he “felt the energy” that arose from the “looks” and perceptions he received from his colleagues and peers, saying they “hurt a lot.”

20-time Grand Slam legend Djokovic was subjected to the harsh conditions of a detainment camp and constant uncertainty whilst he fought the cancellation of his medical exemption and visa in court.

During the legal proceedings, it was revealed that Djokovic was not vaccinated against Covid-19. As such, it is believed that he is now the only unvaccinated player within the ATP top 100.

To conclude the near fortnight-long saga, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke superseded the court’s ruling and terminated the visa for a final time. As a result Djokovic was then subsequently deported.

This was done on the basis that he felt Djokovic may stoke anti-vaccination rhetoric or sentiment if he were allowed to compete unvaccinated.

Djokovic’s actions seemingly irked and frustrated a number of players on both the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as a number of former professionals and pundits. Spectators alike were also divided as vaccination conversations are increasingly part of public discourse.

There was a period during the drama where it appeared the Serbian icon would be allowed to compete. Whilst he was allowed to train on the Rod Laver Arena, he revealed it was nothing like a regular training session as there were “helicopters flying” and “cameras everywhere.”

In an exclusive tell-all interview with the BBC, Djokovic said he would be willing to “sacrifice playing Grand Slams” should vaccinations be made mandatory for competition and entry.

In the same interview, Djokovic said “I was free for four days, and I was training, but it was not a regular kind of training days I would normally have prior to Grand Slam competitions.

“I had helicopters flying above every single training session that I had on Rod Laver Arena, cameras all over the place.

“Also, my colleagues, that really hurt me a lot. I felt that energy and those looks from my colleagues and people that were in the tennis facility, and obviously, I understand that they had a perception that was based on what they were seeing from media reports.

“[But] I wasn’t able and wasn’t going out to the media because of what I had previously said about respecting the legal process and respecting the Australian Open.

“But at that time, I really wanted to speak to everyone and give my explanation,” the Serbian great concluded.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.