Novak Djokovic has expressed his 'love' for Australia and hopes to be able to return to the country in 2023 despite his deportation saga in January.
The 21-time grand slam champion was kicked out of the country in the lead-up to the Australian Open after having his visa cancelled because he was unvaccinated against Covid-19.
'CAN'T WAIT': Tennis fans erupt over Rafa Nadal and Serena news
Speaking after his Wimbledon triumph last weekend, the Serbian star revealed he still isn't vaccinated and has no plans for that to change.
At this stage he will be barred from entering the United States to compete in the US Open next month, and faces a few hurdles to play the Australian Open next January.
The federal government has since gotten rid of a policy that requires overseas visitors to show proof of vaccination to enter Australia, however Djokovic's cancelled visa also comes with a three-year ban from the country.
However the three-year ban is likely to be waived in light of the looser restrictions now in place, opening the door for Djokovic to compete at the Australian Open.
Speaking to reporters as he opened a tennis centre in Bosnia this week, Djokovic said he held no ill-will against Australia and was holding hope of being allowed back into the country.
“I was deported from the country to which I would like to come back,” he said.
“I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best grand slam results in that country.
“Hopefully in January I can be there because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America, I want to be everywhere I can possibly play.
“I am a professional tennis player, I don’t go into politics or anything else because that doesn’t interest me.
“I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and at least I expect people to respect my decision.
“If I have permission, I’ll be there. If I don’t, I won’t be there – it’s not the end of the world.
“I still feel young in my own skin, I feel I have many more years to come so there will be a lot of opportunities.”
Djokovic also addressed the lingering theories that he tried to fudge his paperwork and come into Australia with an invalid exemption.
“People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no paper, permission or exemption - it is not true,” he said.
“That was proven on the court case, so I would never go into a country where I didn’t have permission to travel.”
Novak Djokovic leaves the Marhaba lounge at Melbourne Airport for flight back to Europe. pic.twitter.com/Rg2D1XTTwW
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 16, 2022
Tennis Australia boss hopeful for Novak Djokovic return
Speaking earlier this week, Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said he hopes Djokovic will back back in 2023.
"We are doing our best," Tiley told Sport Klub.
"Of course, it's not my decision whether he will be able to play at the Australian Open, but Novak is always welcome, he knows that many people in Australia like to watch him play.
"It is up to others to make a decision, but there is still a lot of time before the Australian Open next year. I think everyone should be enjoying his Wimbledon victory now."
Foreign visitors no longer have to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival into Australia under a new ruling by the Labor government.
According to the ABC, Djokovic and his team are aware of the change and are likely to apply to have his three-year ban waived.
"Migration legislation provides that a person whose visa has been cancelled may be subject to a three-year exclusion period that prevents the grant of a further temporary visa," a Department of Immigration spokesperson told the ABC.
"The exclusion period will be considered as part of any new visa application and can be waived in certain circumstances."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.