Wimbledon figure's staggering call on Novak Djokovic participation

Novak Djokovic, pictured here after winning the Wimbledon title in 2021.
Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon title in 2021. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

British tennis royalty Tim Henman says he doesn't think Novak Djokovic's vaccination status will prevent him from defending his title at Wimbledon.

Djokovic confirmed this week that he is not vaccinated against Covid-19 and will not get the jab in order to play tennis tournaments.

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When asked by the BBC if that means missing grand slams like the French Open and Wimbledon, the World No.1 said: "Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay."

However Henman, who sits on the committee of Wimbledon's All England Club, says he thinks Djokovic will be allowed to play while unvaccinated.

Current UK travel guidelines allow unvaccinated tourists to enter and are not as strict as other countries like Australia.

Unvaccinated tourists simply have to return a negative PCR test two days before departure and within two days of landing.

"I don't think so," Henman told BBC Radio when asked if Djokovic would be prevented from playing.

"To get into the UK at the moment, those are the guidelines the Championship will be following at this stage.

"At this moment in time [the rules are] going to be government-led."

Tim Henman, pictured here with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Wimbledon in 2021.
Tim Henman with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge at Wimbledon in 2021. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2021 and would be desperate to add to his career haul of 20 grand slam titles after Rafa Nadal won his 21st at the Australian Open.

"I do understand his concerns," Henman said.

"I would reiterate it is absolutely his prerogative to have the vaccine or not. As a former player and a tennis fan, it was probably not what I wanted to hear in that interview, but probably what I expected.

"As he freely admitted, he is going to be severely restricted as to where he can travel to and therefore play without being vaccinated."

Tim Henman, pictured here in commentary at the US Open in 2021.
Tim Henman in commentary at the US Open in 2021. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Djokovic won't get vaccinated to play tennis tournaments

Djokovic's participation at the French Open remains under a cloud, however it looks as though he might be able to obtain a medical exemption due to contracting Covid in December.

However he looks unlikely to allowed into the United States for the US Open, as well as ATP 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami.

"By taking himself out of the chance to compete in grand slams he is certainly jeopardising his chances of being the greatest male player of all time and I think that speaks volumes to his courage, conviction and belief that this is what is best for him," Henman said.

"You would have thought that very little is going to sway his opinion."

Djokovic is also banned from returning to Australia for the next three years after having his visa cancelled, however Immigration Minister Alex Hawke admitted on Wednesday that he would be 'open' to considering lifting the ban.

Nadal claimed his 21st major and the all-time men's record in Djokovic's absence at the Australian Open.

He will head into the French Open, which he has won 13 times, as the overwhelming favourite to win his 22nd major.

Djokovic said he would forego tournaments "because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else.

"I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can," he added.

with AAP

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