London | McEnroe calls for Djokovic to be allowed entry

John McEnroe has called on American president Joe Biden to help Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic play the US Open in the autumn,

These politicians are getting in the way too much. They did it in Australia. Let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean come on. This is ridiculous. John McEnroe

Djokovic, who defeated unseeded Australian Nick Kyrgios in the men’s final to lift his seventh crown at The Championships on Sunday, has refused to take the Covid-19 vaccination.

The Serb’s stance also meant him missing this year’s Australian Open, with the country’s government revoking his work visa for that reason, with the ace unable to be granted another for three years under law down under.

And the likelihood of Djokovic being unable to take part in a major until the French Open next May looks almost certain as long as he refuses to have the necessary jabs.

All foreign and non-immigrants to the United States have to show they have been fully vaccinated.

But tennis legend McEnroe wants the 35-year-old Serb to have the opportunity to try and win his 22nd Slam, which would put him two ahead of Roger Federer and equal with record-holder Rafa Nadal.

McEnroe, while urging Biden to relax the rules for Djokovic, said: “These politicians are getting in the way too much. They did it in Australia. Let the guy come in and play in the US. I mean come on. This is ridiculous. You can agree to be tested. There’s got to be a way around this.”

Djokovic underlined at Wimbledon that he is still refusing to be vaccinated but wants to play in New York.

The Serb, who completed his fourth successive win in London SW19, said: “I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card to enter the United States.

“I would love to go there. I’ll wait hopefully for some good news from the US. That would be the next big tournament.

“If that doesn’t happen, then I have to see what the schedule looks like. I will not burden myself to have to go and play tournaments and get points. I don’t feel I’m in a rush anyway to end my career in a year’s time or two years’ time or whatever. I want to keep my body healthy. Keep myself mentally sane and motivated to compete with the young guns.

“Everything that has followed Australia, particularly in the tournaments, has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. I just needed time to weather the storm.”

Djokovic was described as an “anti-vax poster boy” by a journalist in a tweet after confirming the writer’s question that he had “closed his mind” to getting the vaccination.

And the player’s wife Jelena, who celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary with her husband at The Championships’ Dinner, was angered.

She posted on Twitter in reply to the journalist’s post: “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.”

Kyrgios, 27, reckons losing the final might help keep him striving.

The Australian, criticised in the past for lack of commitment, said: “If I had won, I’d have struggled with motivation. Winning Wimbledon is the ultimate. I felt I belonged. I was playing one of the greatest of all time. My fire has been lit the whole year. I’ve been committed.”

* Mike Donovan has written the book The Jimmy Greaves We Knew: The Authorised Celebration of a National Treasure which is out on Pitch Publishing on 19 September, 2022, the first anniversary of Greaves’ passing. Donovan has also written a Tennis Threads special edition on Andy Murray called Murray: Magnificent, Momentous and Memorable Achievements.



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