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Djokovic 'Jeopradising' Greatest Ever Status Over Vaccine Say Tennis Greats

Djokovic 'Jeopradising' Greatest Ever Status Over Vaccine Say Tennis Greats
By Jonathan Byrne
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The recent debacle surrounding Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open was highly publicised, but it's not phasing the Grand Slam champion going forward.

The Serb has spoken out about his vaccination status that got him into hot water last month and prevented him from defending his men's singles title down under.

In an interview with the BBC, Djokovic admitted that he's willing to forego appearances at the likes of the French Open and Wimbledon over not having the jab.

"Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay," he told the BBC. "I was never against vaccination but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."

Djokovic could have marked his 21st Grand Slam title in Australia. He ended up conceding the milestone to Rafael Nadal, who was also on twenty major wins before the tournament.

There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding his medical exemption from the vaccine, which eventually led to Djokovic being deported from the country after having his visa revoked.

"Principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else," he said. "I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can."


"I was never against vaccination. I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus."

There were some eyebrows raised when Djokovic returned a positive Covid-19 test in December, which was used as part of his exemption plea in January.

However, the current world number one denies there was any wrongdoing. "I understand that people come out with different theories on how lucky I was or how convenient it is."


"I take this very seriously, I really don't like someone thinking I've misused something or in my own favour, in order to, you know, get a positive PCR test and eventually go to Australia."

Tennis World Reacts To Djokovic Interview

Former world number four Tim Henman appeared on BBC Radio 4 and spoke about Djokovic potentially missing Wimbledon, a tournament he has won six times.

The likes of France and the U.S. require athletes to be vaccinated to enter the country, but the UK currently doesn't have any guidelines that follow a vaccination requirement.


"To get into the UK at the moment, those are the guidelines the Championship will be following at this stage. At this moment in time (the rules are) going to be government-led," Henman said.

"I would reiterate it is absolutely his prerogative to have the vaccine or not," he added. "As a former player and a tennis fan, it was probably not what I wanted to hear in that interview."

Pam Shriver, a five-time Wimbledon doubles champion, thinks education could be important for Djokovic going forward and hopes he understands the science behind the jab.


"I hope that the right trusted person, who is an expert in science and medicine, probably would have to be a Serbian, can sit him down and show him, and walk him through all of the steps," she said.

"It’s terrible for tennis, not good for him, and really, he does lead by example. The fact that he doesn’t trust it, it does lead a lot of people, in his home country and throughout the world."

Tim Henman thinks his choices could have a lasting impact on his legacy going forward. The fact it could get in the way of participation at major tournaments is a worry for him.

"By taking himself out of the chance to compete in Grand Slams he is certainly jeopardizing his chances of being the greatest male player of all time," Henman said.

"I think that speaks volumes to his courage, conviction, and belief that this is what is best for him. You would have thought that very little is going to sway his opinion."

See Also: The Inside Track: David Gillick Meets Israel Olatunde, The Fastest Man In Ireland

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