Jelena Djokovic defends husband amid Australian Open furore

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·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
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Jelena Djokovic, the wife of tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, has defended her husband amid his Australian Open immigration scandal. Picture: Instagram
Jelena Djokovic, the wife of tennis world No.1 Novak Djokovic, has defended her husband amid his Australian Open immigration scandal. Picture: Instagram

Novak Djokovic's wife Jelena Djokovic has broken the family's silence as the world No.1 remains in immigration detention in Melbourne.

Djokovic was escorted away from Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport by Border Force officers after his visa was cancelled by the federal government while he was en route from Serbia.

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The 34-year-old had announced he was travelling to Australia on Tuesday evening, ending months of speculation over his Covid-19 vaccination status by saying he had been given an 'exemption permission'.

Djokovic had been granted an exemption from Victorian government and Tennis Australia rules requiring him to be vaccinated in order to compete in the Australian Open, however this exemption did not meet the Federal government's immigration criteria for him to enter the country.

A last-minute challenge to his visa cancellation was submitted to the Federal Court on Thursday evening, and is expected to be heard on Monday.

Djokovic's plight has attracted some support, particularly in Serbia, while his continuing refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has seen him draw criticism from the likes of Rafael Nadal.

Jelena Djokovic took to social media to firstly acknowledge Christmas in Serbia, but also thank fans for their support and to call for 'love and respect'.

“It’s Christmas today for us, my wishes are for everyone to be healthy, happy, safe and together with families,” she wrote.

“We wish we are all together today, but my consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience.

“Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband.

“I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.

“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force."

Djokovic making big mistake: Boris Becker

The nine-time Australian Open champion is making a "big mistake" if he doesn't get vaccinated against COVID-19, says the world No.1's former coach Boris Becker.

Djokovic has spoken in the past about his opposition to vaccination, and posted on social media before setting off for the Australian Open to say he had received "exemption permission" to enter the country.

Becker - himself a former world No.1 and twice Australian Open champion as well as winning three Wimbledon singles titles - enjoyed a successful three-year partnership with Djokovic which included six grand slam victories.

The 54-year-old maintains a close relationship with the Serbian, but feels their views on how to best protect against coronavirus are very different.

Reports have suggested Novak Djokovic could travel back to Serbia, obtain the correct Australian visa, then return to compete in the Australian Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Reports have suggested Novak Djokovic could travel back to Serbia, obtain the correct Australian visa, then return to compete in the Australian Open. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

"On this occasion I think he is making a big mistake in not getting vaccinated. It is one that threatens what remains of his career and his chance to cement himself as the greatest player of all time," Becker said in a Daily Mail column.

"Four times I sat in his box as he won the Australian Open, so I am fully aware of his great strengths as an incredible competitor. I also think he has a great character that can easily be misunderstood.

"Yet these strengths can also be weaknesses. The same incredible determination which I saw win so many close matches can be a vulnerability with his stubbornness."

Becker feels if Djokovic does maintain his vaccine hesitancy, it could present more hurdles to his playing career.

"He is incredibly strong-willed, with very firm beliefs. If he does not, then in 10 years he will look back on it and realise he made a mistake," Becker said.

"It is not just about Australia. The fact is that we are living in a different world and he is going to find it very hard to live the life of a professional tennis player travelling around without the vaccination.

"Those are the rules, whether one likes them or not, and you have to accept it. Maybe one day we will get back to a more normal situation, but at 34 he does not have much time left to pursue his goals.

"As someone fond of him, I know he will be suffering. He will be shocked at the treatment he is getting, in a bleak room with his meals shoved under the door.

"It will be all the more disconcerting because he loves playing in Australia and perhaps no stadium more than the Rod Laver Arena."

With AAP

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