In the aftermath of tennis star Novak Djokovic winning his seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday came talks about his inability to compete at the US Open next month, as he will likely be refused entry to the United States because of his refusal to take the coronavirus vaccine.
Journalist Ben Rothenberg called Djokovic an “anti-vax posterboy” on Twitter recently.
“Unless there is a swift change in US immigration law, #Wimbledon will be Djokovic’s last Grand Slam event of the year,” the tweet said.
“US requires vaccination for foreigners to enter, and Djokovic has firmly said he has ruled out getting vaccinated, entrenching himself as an anti-vax posterboy.”
This did not sit well with the champion’s wife, Jelena. She went on to have a heated exchange with Rothenberg on Twitter.
“Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as an anti vax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is,” she replied.
Rothenberg responded with: “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 has made him, unwittingly or not, into a huge icon of the anti-vax movement. I saw this very clearly during Australia.”
Jelena then accused the journalist of being “judgemental,” and for making a “very judgmental narrative that fits your agenda.”
“He is simply choosing what’s best for his body. If he is not playing because of making that choice, he is fine with it,” Jelena said.
Rothenberg didn’t back down and continued:
“I can accept judgmental, 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. Is that judgmental? Perhaps. But this stuff is important.”
To which Jelena responded:
“Thank you for sharing your beliefs. I hope you don’t get judged for them. Or become a poster boy for hatred and bullying. You never know. You are also an influential figure, please don’t continuously disappoint. Unless that’s your role.”
After claiming his 21st Grand Slam title, Djokovic is showing no signs of slowing down on the court and is moving towards beating Rafael Nadal’s all-time record.
Bogdan Obradovic, Djokovic’s former coach, revealed that the Serb is actually eyeing to get 30 Grand Slam titles. At the very least, Obradovic is confident that the Serb can actually surpass Nadal’s record.
But Djokovic’s anti-vax status could become a hindrance to his progress. Reports say that American immigration does not have plans to relax rules requiring all incoming travellers should already have COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter the United States or exemption,” Djokovic said.
“I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from the USA because I would really love to go there. If that doesn’t happen, then I have to see what the schedule will look like.”