Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena got into an argument with a tennis reporter after the Wimbledon final in which the world number three won his 21st grand slam title.
Djokovic defeated Nick Kyrgios in fiery Wimbledon final to claim his 21st grand slam title and fourth straight championship on the grass course.
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But after the game, Djokovic ruled out any chance of him getting vaccinated to participate in the US Open, having fended questions about his decision.
The US border currently remains closed to unvaccinated travelers, meaning Djokovic will put the US Open in its current form.
Djokovic, as before in the tournament, reiterated his position that he would not be vaccinated to play the US Open.
And after the questions, Jelena Djokovic started a social media feud with leading tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg over her husband’s next move.
Rothenberg tweeted that Djokovic would further “anchorize” himself as an anti-vaxx “poster boy” after admitting he would not be vaccinated to play the final grand slam of the year.
But this didn’t sit well with Jelena.
“Excuse me. I’ll make sure it gets noticed that YOU tagged him as an antivax poster boy for whatever reason. He simply replied what HIS body choice is,” Jelena wrote.
Rothenberg replied: “I understand it is his choice, but I also say that his decision to be so resolutely against the vaccines that it limits his ability to play tournaments, unwittingly or not, made him a huge icon of the anti – vax movement. I saw this very clearly during Australia.”
Jelena replied: “You create a very judgmental story that fits your agenda. He just chooses what’s best for his body. If he doesn’t play because he made that choice, he’s fine with that.”
Rothenberg said: “I can accept judgmentally. I believe that every citizen, especially public figures, had a duty to act responsibly with public health actions and messages during the pandemic, and as someone who has treated Novak as the influential champion who he is, he has repeatedly disappointed me deeply.”
The argument ended when Jelena hit back, saying, “Thanks for sharing your beliefs. I hope you don’t get judged for it.”
“Or become a banner for hate and bullying. You never know. You’re also an influential figure, please don’t disappoint all the time. Unless that’s your role.”
Rothenberg ended when he claimed that the topic of vaccinations is important to discuss.
Tennis producer David Kane was one of many who targeted Jelena for her comments.
“I really can’t stand Ol’ Ms. 5G frantically defending her anti-vax husband at the *Wimbledon Ball*, calling people bullies for claiming the reality: He represents a growing number of people who are proudly rejecting basic science in the light of an ongoing public health concern,” he wrote.
“You cannot boast of a huge sphere of influence and 1) not recognize that you have the power to legitimize an anti-scientific movement and 2) claim that you are bullied when someone with a significantly smaller sphere indicates it.
“Truly the audacity to try to debunk someone’s connection (however indirectly) with a movement by parroting *literal topics of conversation* from that movement.
“This is not a personal, private belief: this is a public – and ultimately political – statement made at a press conference, one that gives a voice to a larger movement, whether or not the speaker directly agrees.
“It is a journalist’s job to hold public figures accountable for the things they do and say. If you think that’s bullying, don’t be a public figure.”
Novak Djokovic refuses vaccine in US Open debate
The spat arose after Djokovic admitted he would not travel to the US at this stage.
“It’s a strange situation,” Djokovic said at his press conference afterwards.
“I’m on vacation. It’s been a pretty exhausting and demanding period for me. I got what I wanted here.
“Hopefully waiting for good news [a change of policy] from the US. I have not been vaccinated and I do not intend to be vaccinated. I don’t think exemption is realistically possible.
“We’ll have to see what the schedule looks like then. I doubt I’ll be chasing for points. Something has changed for me over the past year and a half.
“I’ve reached the historic weeks where I was number 1, which I’ve worked my whole life for. Now I prioritize slams and big tournaments where I feel good.”
Djokovic was stylish in his speech on the pitch after winning the title and praised his opponent Kyrgios for his campaign.
“Nick, you’re coming back. Not just Wimbledon, but the final,” he said.
“It’s hard to find words of comfort after such a heavy loss, but you showed why you deserve to be one of the best players in the world, especially on this surface.
“Congratulations to you and all your team for a great tournament. I wish you all the best, man. Really.
“I really have a lot of respect for you. I think you are a phenomenal tennis player and athlete, an amazing talent. I mean you will hear that for many years to come.
“But now everything is starting to come together for you and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of you in the later stages of the grand slams.”
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