Novak Djokovic breaks his silence after deportation from Australia
Novak Djokovic has spoken for the first time about his deportation from Australia in a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
The World No.1 described his detention and deportation from Australia as an "unfortunate event" and thanked the Serbian president for his support.
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An 11-day saga over Djokovic's entry visa ended with the tennis champion being deported for failing to meet Australia's strict Covid-19 vaccination requirements.
The 20-time grand slam champion met with President Vucic on Thursday in Belgrade, describing the events in Australia as "unexpected, to say the least".
“This is the first time I go public,” he said.
"I wanted to meet with you today because, primarily as a citizen of Serbia, I felt a great need to thank you for great support that you, as the president of Serbia, gave me, as well as all state institutions during the unfortunate events in Australia.
"Although I was alone in detention, and faced with many problems and challenges, I wasn't feeling lonely.
"I had huge support primarily from my family, all of the close people in my life, entire Serbian nation, many people with good intentions from the region and the world."
Djokovic didn't provide any details of the events that took place in Australia, promising to give his "version" in the next 7-10 days.
President Vucic thanked Djokovic for “glorifying our country”, revealing he urged the tennis star to leave Australia when he first heard he'd been detained.
“And then I saw how persistent he is, how much he wanted to play, to fight on the sports field, to show on the sports field how much he is ready to fight not only for himself, but his country and show that he is better than others.” Vucic said.
“Thank you for representing our country with honour, courage and in the best way, and for doing so in the future. Thank you for the great fight you fought in Australia."
President says Novak Djokovic 'will beat them all'
A statement from the President’s office said of the Djokovic meeting: “The ladies [in the office] were specially groomed, and all this shows that someone special and much bigger came.
“It has never happened that we have so many people in the building, that all the secretaries, all bookkeepers, all cooks, janitors, came because they wanted to see Novak.
“He will beat them all, at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. I predict that.”
The meeting happened a day after Serbia's state prosecutors rejected suggestions voiced by some foreign media that Djokovic used a fake positive test for Covid-19 to enter Australia.
To enter Australia, Djokovic submitted a positive test issued in Serbia on December 16 for a visa exemption on the grounds that he had recently recovered from the virus.
He is not vaccinated and the Australian government later decided to cancel his visa and deport Djokovic, saying his presence in Australia could stir anti-vaccination sentiments.
In Djokovic's absence, Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open for a record 21st men's grand slam singles title.
Djokovic and Roger Federer are now one behind on 20 majors, with Nadal's favoured French Open looming in May.
Bombshell reports emerged on Wednesday that Djokovic is considering getting the Covid jab after watching Nadal break the record.
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