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Tim Henman tells Novak Djokovic to ‘get vaccinated’ after Australia deportation controversy


Novak Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Former British number one Tim Henman has told Novak Djokovic to ‘get vaccinated’ in order to avoid any future saga like the one which has seen him sensationally deported from Australia.

The Serb was stripped of his visa by Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke over the weekend after making errors on the vaccine exemption form which he had used to enter the country. The Australian government feared that Djokovic’s ongoing presence would stoke anti-vaxx sentiment in the country, which has been placed under some of the strictest Covid-19 regulations on the planet since the pandemic took hold in early 2020, and a court failed to uphold his appeal over the weekend.

Djokovic cannot defend his Australian Open title and will now have to wait for the chance to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam after returning home to Belgrade via Dubai, and Henman says there is a very simple way he can guarantee his spot at future majors.

‘The one point I would make is that to be a professional tennis player, there are certain things you need to do,’ the 47-year-old told the Daily Mail. ‘Travelling is one of them, if you don’t like it, professional tennis is going to be difficult. The reality is looking at the vaccination, if you want to play professional tennis, it’s a global sport, you need to get vaccinated. 

‘I absolutely respect that any human being has choice. If they don’t want to get vaccinated, I respect that — that is their choice. However, as I think Rafael Nadal eloquently put: decisions have consequences. When you look at the life of a professional tennis player, when you’re travelling around the world, it would be a lot more straightforward if you are vaccinated.’ 

Henman, though, says that the Australian government and the tennis authorities have tarnished their reputations too.

‘It’s been a bad look for everyone, whether that’s been Tennis Australia, the Victorian state or the Australian government. All these grey areas could’ve and should’ve sorted out long before he actually arrived at border control in Melbourne. That’s where all of this could have been avoided.

‘It’s not whether you’re the best tennis player in the world, if you’re very famous or very wealthy, these are the rules for Australia. I don’t think the government seem to have handled it very well. 

‘From my point of view as a tennis fan, I want to really draw a line under it because there’s been so many great stories from the first few weeks of the season and you’ve got a Grand Slam coming up, one of the cornerstones of our sport, and I want the tennis to do the talking now, that’s for sure.’

The Australian Open kicked off in Melbourne on Monday, with current British number one Cameron Norrie suffering a surprise defeat to highly-rated American youngster Sebastian Korda.

John McEnroe slams Australia over Novak Djokovic deportation: ‘It’s total bull****’

Novak Djokovic faces fresh Grand Slam blow over anti-vaxx stance

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