Fresh off the back of Novak Djokovic's 21st Grand Slam crown, his wife Jelena has been fighting his corner on Twitter over his stance on vaccination.
The tennis star has had a rollercoaster of a year, which got off to a terrible start in January, when a drawn-out bid to compete in the Australian Open ultimately saw him deported because he hadn't been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The story became huge international news, and the Serbian was condemned by many, who argued that he had taken a dangerous position as a role model – but his wife thinks this criticism is unfair.
Following the 35-year-old's seventh singles title win at Wimbledon yesterday, July 10, journalist Ben Rothenberg pointed out that it could be the last Grand Slam of the year for the 'anti-vax posterboy'.
He tweeted: "Unless there is a swift change in US immigration law, #Wimbledon will be Djokovic's last Grand Slam event of the year.
"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."
Clearly not taking kindly to the tweet, Jelena replied: "Excuse me. Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as antivax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is."
Excuse me. Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as antivax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is.— Jelena Djokovic (@jelenadjokovic) July 10, 2022
Defending his point, Rothenberg said Djokovic had become an anti-vax icon – whether or not that was his intention.
"I understand that it's his choice," he wrote. "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 labelled his comments 'very judgemental' and said her husband is 'choosing what's best for his body', and is happy to miss tournaments if that's the price he has to pay.
"I can accept judgmental," Rothenburg replied.
"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."
Their verbal rally wasn't done yet though, and Jelena fired back another volley.
"Thank you for sharing your beliefs," she wrote. "I hope you don't get judged for them. Or become a poster boy for hatred and bullying. You never know.
"You are also influential figure, please don't continuously disappoint. Unless that's your role."
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.— Jelena Djokovic (@jelenadjokovic) July 10, 2022
You are also influential figure, please don’t continuously disappoint. Unless that’s your role.
Speaking after his triumph over Nick Kyrgios at the All England Club, Djokovic said: "Certainly this year has not been the same like the last years.
"It has started the way it has started and it has affected me definitely in the first several months of the year. I was not feeling great generally. Mentally, emotionally, I was not at a good place."
He added: "It's a relief, as well, considering what I've been through of course this year. It adds more value and more significance and more emotions."
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