The decade's most triggering comedy
Tennis great Novak Djokovic made history on Sunday when he defeated Daniil Medvedev in three sets to win the U.S. Open, scoring him his 24th major championship, tying the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles.
Djokovic, who has refused to take the COVID vaccine, was notably banned from entering the U.S. last year due to a Biden administration vaccine rule, keeping the athlete from competing in the U.S. Open last year.
“To make history [in] this sport is just something truly remarkable and special, obviously, in every possible way, in every possible meaning of the word,” Djokovic said after winning the Open, according to ESPN. “It’s hard to describe the words.”
“I never imagined that I would be here standing with you talking about 24 Slams,” the 36-year-old continued. “I never thought that would be the reality. But the last couple of years, I felt I have a chance, I have a shot for history, and why not grab it if it’s presented?”
Djokovic, who said he had already contracted and recovered from the virus, has chosen not to get vaccinated against COVID. This led to the dramatic detainment and deportation of the tennis star from Australia, rendering him unable to defend his Australian Open title in 2021. Later, he was banned from New York for the 2022 U.S. Open, similarly over his vaccination status.
“Sadly, I will not be able to travel to NY this time for [the] US Open,” he said at the time on social media. “Thank you #NoleFam for your messages of love and support. Good luck to my fellow players! I’ll keep in good shape and positive spirit and wait for an opportunity to compete again. See you soon tennis world!”
Djokovic spoke about what happened to him about a year after the Australia incident. “Obviously what happened 12 months ago was not easy for me, for my family, team, anybody who is close to me,” he said. “It’s obviously disappointing to leave the country like that.”
“You can’t forget those events,” Djokovic continued. “It’s one of these things that stays with you for I guess the rest of your life. It’s something that I’ve never experienced before and hopefully never again. But it is a valuable life experience for me and something that as I said will stay there, but I have to move on.”
The athlete has been open about what he’s willing to give up for his personal medical choices, specifically tennis championships.
“That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” Djokovic told the BBC. “Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
“I was never against vaccination,” he added, “but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.”