Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena has entered into an argument with a tennis reporter following the Wimbledon final that saw the World No.3 win his 21st grand slam title.
Djokovic defeated Nick Kyrgios in a fiery Wimbledon final to claim his 21st grand slam title and fourth consecutive championship at the grass-court major.
But after the match, Djokovic shut down any chance he will get vaccinated to compete in the US Open after fending off questions about his decision.
The American border currently remains closed to unvaccinated travellers, which will see Djokovic siting out the US Open as it stands.
Djokovic, as he did earlier in the tournament, reiterated his stance that he wouldn’t get vaccinated in order to play the US Open.
And following the questions, Jelena Djokovic entered into a social media spat with leading tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg over her husband’s next move.
Rothenberg tweeted that Djokovic would further ‘entrench’ himself as an anti-vaxx ‘poster-boy’ after admitting he wouldn’t get vaccinated to play the final grand slam of the year.
But this didn’t sit well with Jelena.
“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,” Jelena wrote.
Rothenberg replied: “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.”
Jelena responded: “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.”
Rothenberg said: “I can accept judgmental. I believe every citizen, especially public figures, had a duty to act responsibly with public health actions and messaging during the pandemic, and as someone who has covered Novak as the influential champion he is, he repeatedly disappointed me deeply.”
The spat ended when Jelena hit back: “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.”
Rothenberg finished when he claimed the topic of vaccinations is important to discuss.
Tennis producer David Kane was among the many to take aim at Jelena for her comments.
“I honestly can’t at Ol’ Ms. 5G feverishly defending her anti-vax husband from the *Wimbledon Ball,* calling people bullies for stating reality: he represents a growing number of people who proudly reject basic science in the face of a continuing public health concern,” he wrote.
“You can’t boast an enormous sphere of influence and 1) not acknowledge that you have the power to legitimize an anti-science movement and 2) claim you’re being bullied when someone with a significantly smaller sphere points that out.
“Truly the audacity of attempting to debunk someone’s affiliation (however indirect) with a movement by *parroting literal talking points* from that movement.
“This is not a personal, privately-held belief: this is a public—and ultimately political—statement spoken at a press conference, one that gives voice to a larger movement regardless of whether the speaker directly associates with it.
“It’s the job of a journalist to hold public figures to account for the things they do and say. If you consider that bullying, don’t be a public figure.”
Novak Djokovic refuses vaccine in US Open debate
The spat was sparked after Djokovic admitted that he wouldn’t be travelling to the US at this stage.
“It is a weird situation,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
“I am on vacation. It has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me. I got what I wanted here.
“I’ll wait hopefully for some good news [a change of policy] from the US. I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible.
“We’ll have to see what the schedule looks like then. I doubt I’ll chase points. Things have changed in the last year and a half for me.
“I achieved the historic weeks of being ranked No.1, that I worked for all my life. Now I prioritise slams and big tournaments where I feel good.”
Djokovic was classy in his on-court speech after winning the title, praising his opponent Kyrgios for his campaign.
“Nick, you’ll be back. Not just Wimbledon, but finals,” he said.
“It’s hard to find consolation words after such a tough loss but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, particularly on this surface.
“Congrats to you and all your team for an amazing tournament. I wish you all the best, man. I really do.
“I really respect you a lot. I think you’re a phenomenal tennis player and athlete, an amazing talent. I mean, you’ll be hearing that for many years.
“But now everything is starting to come together for you and I’m sure we’re going to see much of you in the later stages of the grand slams.”