Djokovic: I'll Scrap Wimbledon Over Forced Vaccination

World's No. 1 men's tennis player says he'd give up future titles: 'That is the price that I'm willing to pay'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2022 7:19 AM CST
Djokovic: Not Anti-Vax, Just 'Trying to Be in Tune With My Body'
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, left, speaks with Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, on Feb. 3, 2022.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

Novak Djokovic's Aussie saga has passed, but a month after his deportation after showing up unvaccinated to play in the Australian Open, the Serbian tennis star says he'd give up future trophies rather than undergo forced vaccination. "Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay," the world's No. 1 men's tennis player told the BBC in an interview that aired Tuesday, noting his decision would even include any appearances at other Grand Slam events such as the French Open and Wimbledon. Djokovic insisted, however, this doesn't make him an anti-vaxxer.

"I was never against vaccination," the 34-year-old said. "But I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body." He noted he'd received the usual slate of childhood vaccines, but that he felt so passionately about calling his own shots on vaccination that he felt compelled to take a stand. "The 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."

"Ultimately, are you prepared to forgo the chance to be the greatest player to ever (pick) up a racket statistically because you feel so strongly about this jab?" the BBC interviewer asked, per CNN. "Yes," Djokovic replied. He noted that he'd "always been a great student of wellness, well-being, health, nutrition," and that he'd seen the positive effects that came about just from tweaking his diet and sleep habits. He did say, however, he'd keep an open mind on possibly getting vaccinated against COVID at some point.

story continues below

"It is hard to know what more Novak Djokovic needs or wants to know" is the response of BBC medical editor Fergus Walsh, who adds there's "a wealth of information" already on the more than 10 billion vaccine doses that have been administered. Per ESPN, it's not clear what the COVID rules in France will be by the time the French Open kicks off on May 22, while the UK, which hosts Wimbledon beginning in late June, has more relaxed rules for visiting athletes and wouldn't likely keep Djokovic from competing. The United States Tennis Association has said it will follow all government rules on vaccine status for the US Open set for the end of August. (More Novak Djokovic stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.