Novak Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 tennis player, will finally be able to compete again in the United States after the Biden White House announced Monday they were ending the requirement that all international travelers must be COVID-vaccinated to enter the U.S.
“We are announcing that the Administration will end the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors, and international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, the same day that the COVID-19 public health emergency ends,” the White House stated, adding, “Our COVID-19 vaccine requirements bolstered vaccination across the nation, and our broader vaccination campaign has saved millions of lives.”
Djokovic, 35, who has been ranked world No. 1 for a record total of 385 weeks and has finished as the year-end No. 1 a record seven times, will now be eligible to compete at the U.S. Open, where he has won three titles, in September. He missed the tournament in 2022 because of the vaccine requirement.
“No, I have no regrets,” Djokovic later told CNN about missing the U.S. Open. “I’ve learned through life that regrets only hold you back and basically make you live in the past. And I don’t want to do that. I also don’t want to live too much in the future. I want to be as much as in the present moment, but of course think about future, create a better future.”
Djokovic tried asking the U.S. government for special permission to play at Indian Wells and Miami in March but was rebuffed.
“It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to play in Indian Wells and Miami,” he said. “I love those tournaments. I had plenty of success there. But at the same time, it is the conscious decision I made and I knew that there is always a possibility that I won’t go. And it is the current state or current situation that I hope will change for later this year for the U.S. Open. That is the most important tournament for me on the American soil.”
Djokovic missed last year’s Australian Open and was deported from the country because he refused to get the vaccine. He has won 22 Grand Slam singles titles and is currently tied with Rafael Nadal for the most in men’s tennis history.
“I think some experiences are transferrable, not all of them, but I think character is,” Djokovic has stated.