Novak Djokovic has conceded he was "selfish" after making a big admission about one key aspect of his controversial vaccination saga.
Djokovic says he is ready to "play better than ever" on the eve of his return to tennis, a month after being deported from Australia over Covid-19 vaccination issues.
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However, in an interview with Serbian TV channel RTS, the 34-year-old has for the first time expressed remorse for conducting an interview with French magazine L'Equipe, less than 48 hours after learning he had contracted Covid-19.
The Serb reportedly contracted Covid on the 16th of December and conducted the interview with L'Equipe on the 18th when he should have been isolating.
Photos of the interview soon began circulating on social media, with the incident landing Djokovic in the crosshairs of critics around the world.
The French journalist even admitted that he wasn't aware Djokovic was Covid-positive until weeks later.
“I admit that it was selfish what I’ve done by attending the interview with L’Equipe. My mistake which I own," Djokovic told RTS in a recent interview.
"I understand that not all people will forgive me and I understand the critics.
The 20-time grand slam champion also revealed that he wants to return for the Australian Open "in the future", despite facing the prospect of a three-year ban in the wake of his deportation.
“A lot of professional and personal beautiful things happened to me there. Despite all this, I have a great connection with Australia," Djokovic added.
While Djokovic remains unvaccinated, it's hard to see how the Serb could return to Melbourne Park, or indeed many other venues around the world - unless many current vaccine mandates change.
The 34-year-old has stressed that he is not anti-vax but rather "pro-choice", and hasn't ruled out the possibility of being vaccinated in the future.
"I don't like to be associated with certain initiatives or communities. I never said I belong to any initiative," he said.
"I keep an open mind ... Everything is possible in life, we will see how the situation will evolve, but at the moment I decided not to do it (get vaccinated)".
Djokovic admits the vaccination fiasco might have left a mark, but he's determined to return to tennis stronger and hungrier than ever.
"I can't say that things will be the same when I return to the court .. but there is an additional reason to play better than ever," he said.
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The World No.1 set out his ambition to play big tournaments, while admitting that his participation does not lie solely with him.
"It will depend on the countries where the tournaments will be held, I will be ready and want to continue my career," said Djokovic.
The Serb also admitted that he has the 2024 Paris Olympics in sight, with an ambition for the single big title he hasn't yet managed to win.
"I want, I am preparing and planning to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris and represent Serbia," he said.
Djokovic said he received a "supportive" text message from Daniil Medvedev just 45 minutes after the Russian lost the Australian Open final to Rafael Nadal last month.
Nadal won a record 21st Grand Slam title to break a tie with Djokovic and Roger Federer.
The Serb added he appreciated the support he received from several players while being detained in Australia, especially highlighting the unusual solidarity from a man with whom he would usually trade insults.
"(Nick) Kyrgios surprised me the most because we had our misunderstandings in the past," Djokovic said.
"I thanked him and other players who stood with me - Medvedev, (Alexander) Zverev and plenty of female players like Alize Cornet".
The Serb is participating in the ATP 500 tournament in Dubai, which will be held from Monday in the rich Gulf emirate, where the anti-covid vaccine is not mandatory.
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