Novak Djokovic can defend Wimbledon title as organisers allow unvaccinated to playtext_fields
All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton on Tuesday said that Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his title at Wimbledon, despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19, as the shots are not required to enter Britain.
Djokovic, a 34-year-old Serb who is ranked No. 1, missed the Australian Open in January due to his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with the Australian government deporting Djokovic after revoking his visa.
Djokovic said earlier this year he would be willing to skip tournaments if he was required to be vaccinated, although Wimbledon officials confirmed on Tuesday the Serb will be able to compete without having to do so.
During the annual spring briefing ahead of Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, Bolton said that "whilst, of course, it is encouraged" that all players get vaccinated, "it will not be a condition of entry to compete" at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament this year.
Djokovic, in addition to being unable to defend his championship at Melbourne Park after an 11-day legal saga over whether he could remain in Australia, had to sit out tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami because he couldn't travel to the United States as a foreigner who is unvaccinated.
The U.S. Tennis Association has said that it will follow whatever governmental rules are in place regarding COVID-19 vaccination status when the U.S. Open is held starting in late August.
Djokovic — who has said he got COVID-19 twice, once each in 2020 and 2021 — owns 20 Grand Slam singles titles, tied with Roger Federer for the second-most for a man. They trail Rafael Nadal, who won his 21st at the Australian Open.
Six of Djokovic's trophies came at Wimbledon, including victories each of the past three times the tournament was held — in 2018, 2019 and 2021. It was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The next major event is the French Open, which begins on May 22, and tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said last month there was nothing preventing Djokovic from defending his 2021 title in Paris.
The Italian Open, a clay-court tune-up for Roland Garros, also has said Djokovic can play there next month.