Having recently won his seventh Wimbledon trophy, Novak Djokovic’s participation in this year’s US Open hangs in doubt due to his Covid-19 vaccination status. The Serbian tennis star defeated Nick Kyrgios in the final at the All England Club but also confirmed after the win that he would not be getting vaccinated. Taking to Twitter, tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg stated that Wimbledon could be ‘Djokovic’s last Grand Slam event of the year’. Calling him the ‘anti-vax posterboy’, Rothenberg also explained that the Serb won’t be able to participate in the US Open due to the country’s immigration law. But the journalist received backlash from Djokovic’s wife Jelena, who called his narrative judgemental.
“Unless there is a swift change in US immigration law, #Wimbledon US requires vaccination for foreigners to enter, and Djokovic has firmly said he has ruled out getting vaccinated, entrenching himself as an anti-vax posterboy”, wrote Rothenberg.
Replying to the journalist, Jelena replied, “Excuse me. Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as antivax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is.”
To Jelena’s response, Rothenberg called her husband ‘a huge icon of the anti-vax movement’. “I understand that it’s his choice, but I also am saying that his decision to be so firmly against the vaccines that it limits his ability to play tournaments has made him, unwittingly or not, into a huge icon of the anti-vax movement. I saw this very clearly during Australia”, he wrote.
“You are creating a very judgmental narrative that fits your agenda. He is simply choosing what’s best for his body. If he is not playing because of making that choice, he is fine with it”, Jelena further added.
Finally, Rothenberg explained that Djokovic has a ‘duty to act responsibly with public health actions’, to which Jelena finally stated, “Thank you for sharing your beliefs. I hope you don’t get judged for them. Or become a poster boy for hatred and bullying. You never know. You are also influential figure, please don’t continuously disappoint. Unless that’s your role.”
Having won the Wimbledon, Djokovic is now only one Grand Slam title behind Rafael Nadal, who became the most successful men’s player of all time by winning the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year. When asked about his US Open participation after the Wimbledon win, he said, “”I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter United States or exemption”.
“I don’t know. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible. If that is possibility, I don’t know what exemption would be about. I don’t know. I don’t have much answers there”, he further added.