The glamorous wife of the newly crowned Wimbledon champion has fought with a renowned tennis journalist after he suggested Novak Djokovic was an “anti-vax posterboy” for his refusal to roll his sleeves up to get jabbed against COVID-19.
The wife of Novak Djokovic has clashed with a renowned tennis journalist after the newly crowned Wimbledon champion reiterated he would not receive a coronavirus vaccine to be able to compete at the next major tournament.
The Serbian superstar defeated a fiery Nick Kyrgios in front of a star-studded crowd early on Monday morning – which included Hollywood actors and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their eldest child George – in four sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(3).
The Australian player put on a near-faultless display in the first set but a frustrated Kyrgios eventually succumbed to the former No.1 after he got hot under the collar over his team and a woman who called out during a crucial moment in the match.
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Djokovic secured his seventh Wimbledon title and edges closer to rival Rafael Nadal with a 21st Grand Slam tournament.
But the former No.1 will not be able to compete at the next major tournament at the US Open as non-citizens entering will need to prove they have both jabs of a vaccine.
The 35-year-old is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and declared earlier this year “the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title”.
Djokovic was asked in his post-match interview whether he had “completely closed his mind” to getting jabbed in order to play in the US.
“Yes,” he simply responded.
Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg shared on Twitter it would be the Serbian’s final major of the year due of the year to his decision to not roll his sleeves up and labelled him an “anti-vax posterboy”.
Jelena, Djokovic’s wife of eight years, responded in anger over the remarks.
“Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as an antivax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is,” she wrote.
Rothenberg insisted he understood it was an individual’s choice to not get vaccinated before he then referenced what happened in Australia.
“I understand that it’s his choice, but I also am saying that his decision to be so firmly against the vaccines that it limits his ability to play tournaments had made him, unwittingly or not, into a huge icon of the anti-vax movement,” he responded.
“I saw this very clearly in Australia.”
The former No.1 was a firm favourite at the Australian Open this year but was deported from the country due to concerns of his high-profile and stance on the COVID-19 vaccine could provoke anti-vaccination sentiment in the community.
Jelena reiterated her husband’s determination came down to his body and argued Rothenberg was “creating a very judgmental narrative that fits your agenda”.
The journalist “accepted” her “judgmental” criticism before he offered his position on the “anti-vax posterboy” remarks.
“I believe every citizen, especially public figures, had a duty to act responsibly with public health actions and messaging during the pandemic, and as someone who has covered Novak as the influential champion he is, he repeatedly disappointed me deeply,” he said.
Jelena concluded by thanking Rothenberg for sharing his beliefs and hoped he did not become a “poster boy for hatred and bullying”.
“You are also influential figure, please don’t continuously disappoint. Unless that’s your role,” the 36-year-old added.
Djokovic may be able to return to the Australian Open next year after the Albanese government flagged it would relax rules on international arrivals who no longer need to declare their vaccination status.