Amid Aussie Mess, Djokovic Has a Message for Fans

Serbian tennis star is feeling the love as he tries to clear up visa/vaccine hubbub before Australian Open
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2022 12:09 PM CST
Fellow Tennis Star Calls Djokovic Plight 'Really Bad'
Protestors gather outside an immigration detention hotel where Serbia's Novak Djokovic is believed to be staying in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

Novak Djokovic still isn't revealing whether he's been vaccinated, but he's now speaking out to family and fans supporting him as he's caught up in a visa commotion Down Under. The Serbian tennis star, who was denied entry to Australia this week ahead of the Australian Open, is now holed up in an immigration detention center, awaiting deportation after the Australian government said he didn't provide proper documentation to prove he'd earned a medical exemption from the country's strict COVID vaccine mandates. Sky News reports Djokovic's first public remarks since the hubbub at the border began came via a story on his Instagram feed, in which he wrote in Serbian: "Thank you to my family, Serbia and all good people across the world who are sending me support. Thanks to dear God for health."

He then added: "Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated." CNN reports that Djokovic is being made to stay at Melbourne's Park Hotel, a facility typically used to hold asylum seekers and refugees. Djokovic's attorneys have filed a legal injunction fighting the decision to revoke his visa and deny him entry; Australia's Federal Court has put off a ruling on that until Monday, per Reuters. In the meantime, family, fans, and colleagues have mixed feelings on how the 34-year-old is being treated.

"How we are handling Novak's situation is bad, really bad," Aussie tennis player Nicholas Kyrgios, who's been critical of how Djokovic has previously acted during the pandemic, tweeted Friday. "At the end of the day, he is human. Do better." Spanish player Rafael Nadal didn't have quite as much sympathy, per Yahoo Sports. While Nadal said in a Thursday presser that he does "in some way" feel bad for Djokovic, he added, "I think if he wanted, he would be playing here in Australia without a problem. He made his own decisions ... But then there are some consequences."

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On Instagram, Djokovic's wife, Jelena, wrote, "The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being." Meanwhile, Djokovic's mother, Dijana Djokovic, tells Sky News that it's a "difficult time for all of us." She adds: "Novak has said he's OK, but I'm not so sure. But he's mentally very stable. He's waiting until Monday morning to see what they are going to decide." She also predicted that if her son gets to stay in Australia, he'll win the tennis championship. (Read more Novak Djokovic stories.)

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