The US Open tennis tournament wrapped up recently with American teen phenom Coco Gauff winning the women’s title and Serbian legend Novak Djokovic taking home his 24th Grand Slam title and the fourth US Open title of his storied career. However, it was a championship he almost wasn’t allowed to play for.
While all of the attention was on Gauff, and rightfully so, as she asserted that American women’s tennis is indeed back, the struggle Djokovic went through to even have the opportunity to play on the biggest stage cannot be overlooked.
Novak Djokovic has been a lightning rod for criticism by the pro-vax movement since the experimental vaccines were introduced. Djokovic, instead of relenting to an untested medicine, decided to do his own research and make his own decisions in relation to his own healthcare.
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the Biden Administration and the liberal left. However, that didn’t dissuade Djokovic from doing what he felt was best for himself and his family. Djokovic remained steadfast in his refusal to take the vaccine and was actually deported from Australia in 2022.
Joker also wasn’t allowed to play at the US Open in Queens, New York, in 2022. Indeed, if Djokovic had been allowed to play, he would already be the record holder for the most Grand Slam victories in tennis history. With the US Open win, he finally recorded his record 24th.
In a recent interview with tennis legend John McEnroe, Djokovic clarified his stance on the vaccines in relation to his tennis. He said: “I was never anti-vax. I was always pro-freedom to choose, and that’s something we took really for granted.”
For many, the freedom to choose was usurped by draconian mandates and public shaming for a shot that was wholly unproven and untested. While many, like Djokovic, remained steadfast in their refusal, many simply had no choice and relented their bodily autonomy in exchange for employment. Djokovic reflected on this: “I didn’t feel like a lot of people had a choice. I was encountering that on a daily basis with so many people in my country or around the world.”
Joker has his record, and he shows no signs of slowing down, but he also maintains he is willing to skip Grand Slam tournaments if mandates return. While it is unlikely that mandates will be reinstituted, Djokovic is prepared to stick to his principles if that’s the case.
Djokovic continued to McEnroe: “I never imagined that I would be here standing with you talking about 24 Slams. I never thought that would be the reality. But the last couple of years, I felt I have a chance, I have a shot for history, and why not grab it if it’s presented?”
It is truly shameful that a player of his caliber was stripped of his chance to make history in favor of draconian mandates. However, Djokovic must be admired not only for his prowess and longevity on the court but for his steadfast refusal to relent and his insistence on doing what he considered best for his family and himself.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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