Novak Djokovic’s return to play tennis in Australia is a moment of personal victory.
The Serbian was deported from Down Under last year when Australia’s draconian government denied his exemption from taking the COVID-19 vaccine and prevented him from competing in the Australian Open. But after a year-long stand off with the Aussies, Djokovic will be competing in tournaments on Australian soil once again and is preparing for the Adelaide International next week.
After receiving a long overdue exemption last month to cross the Australian border, Djokovic says he's thrilled to be playing tennis in a country where he has enjoyed many victories.
"It's great to be back in Australia," Djokovic said. "It's a country where I've had tremendous success in my career, particularly in Melbourne. It's by far my most successful Grand Slam. I'm hoping that everything is going to be positive.”
Djokovic still remembers the pain he felt after the tennis community, the Australian government, and a lot of fans ostracized him for not getting the vaccine, but he is taking the positives from the experience and continuing in stride.
“You can’t forget those events. It’s one of these things that stays with you for, I guess, the rest of your life,” Djokovic said. “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.”
Thanks to the Australian government coming back to its senses, Djokovic will also have a chance to add to his record amount of Australian Open titles and win a share of the event’s record amount of prize money. The Djoker has already won the first leg of the Grand Slam nine times in his career, including three in a row from 2019-2021.