Tennis star Novak Djokovic is currently the top-ranked player in the world, and the 36-year-old Serbian, who has won a record 24 Grand Slams in his illustrious career, doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Djokovic became a controversial figure after refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine. At the time, he told reporters that he would rather quit tennis than take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Blast from the past – Novak Djokovic says he'd rather miss tournaments than get COVID vaccine
Novak Djokovic is defending his decision to remain unvaccinated from COVID-19 even if it means missing his shot at being the most successful men's tennis player in history. CBS News'… pic.twitter.com/FAvBgxQCVP
— Camus (@newstart_2024) December 13, 2023
During a recent interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Djokovic clarified his stance on vaccines, saying he believed in having the freedom to choose.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic reiterates stance on vaccines: ‘I’m pro-freedom to choose’ https://t.co/2xusLioL08
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 11, 2023
From Fox News:
Through all the success though, Djokovic was cast as a villain in recent years for his decision not to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic on refusing to get the COVID vaccine: “I was basically declared as a villain of the world. I’m not anti-vaxx. I’m pro-freedom to choose.” pic.twitter.com/Ta0qQ80uyV
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) December 11, 2023
Despite the backlash, he has remained steadfast in his belief that he does not have to get the vaccine. In September, Djokovic spoke with tennis great John McEnroe about his stance, though it was not the mindset people believed he had.
Djokovic said he was not “anti-vax,” but rather “pro-freedom to choose” whether a person wants to get the vaccine or not.
During a “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday, Djokovic reiterated those comments.
“People tried to declare me as an anti-vax [person]. I’m not anti-vax, nor am I pro-vax. I’m pro-freedom to choose,” he said once more.
🇺🇸Tennis champion Novak Djokovic: "I'm not anti-vaccine. Nor am I pro-vaccine. I'm pro-freedom of choice." pic.twitter.com/sClnMFL7No
— Angelus caelorum 🧣 (@CaelorumAngelus) December 12, 2023
Controversy spread globally for Djokovic when the Serbian native wanted to defend his Australian Open title in 2022. However, despite being granted a medical exemption to enter Australia without the COVID-19 vaccination, Immigration Minster Alex Hawke revoked Djokovic’s visa.
“I was basically declared as a villain of the world,” Djokovic told “60 Minutes.” “I had, basically, most of the world against me. I had that kind of experience on the tennis court with crowds that were maybe not cheering me on. But I never had this particular experience before in my life.
“I got the exemption, I got the permission to come into the country. So, of course, it escalated to the highest of highest levels globally.”
Djokovic would launch a case to save his visa and his ability to compete in the Australian Open. Supporters of Australia’s decision to cancel his visa, as well as those believing Djokovic had the right to play, stood outside a courtroom where three judges made the decision to deport Djokovic.
He said at the time he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, though he accepted the ruling and went on a flight to Dubai. This process lasted 10 days prior to the start of the tournament.
Watch the full interview:
Djokovic told McEnroe in September he would forgo winning more Grand Slam titles if the vaccine is required to participate in the tournament.Advertisement