Paris, France – Novak Djokovic is prepared to miss the French Open and Wimbledon if COVID-19 vaccination becomes mandatory at the Grand Slams but he is not against inoculation, the world number one tennis plays said.
Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, was barred from competing in this year’s Australian Open, depriving the 34 – year – old Serbian of the chance to become the most successful men’s player of all time with 21 Grand Slam titles.
He was instead deported from Australia after an 11 – day rollercoaster experience involving two visa cancellations, two court challenges and five nights in two stints at an immigration detention hotel where asylum seekers are held.
‘I understand the consequence of my decision’, Djokovic told the BBC, adding that he was prepared not to travel to Australia due to his unvaccinated status.
‘I understand that not being vaccinated today, I am unable to travel to most of the tournaments at the moment. Yes, that is the price that I’m willing to pay’.
A steely – eyed Djokovic said he hoped to compete for ‘many more years’ but added that the freedom to choose what he want to put into his body was more important to him than any title.
The Serbian, however, distanced himself from the anti – vaccination movement and said he was keeping an open mind about the jab.
‘I was never against vaccination’, he said, adding that he took vaccines as a child. ‘But I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.
‘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’.
Djokovic, who won Wimbledon and the French Open last year, is set to return to competitive action at an ATP tournament in Dubai next week for the first time since his deportation from Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open.