Earlier this week, Serbia’s state prosecutors argued that the COVID-19 tests submitted to Australian officials by professional tennis player Novak Djokovic in December were legitimate and valid. The assertion pushed back against reports from outlets, including Der Spiegel and the BBC, which highlighted discrepancies in the tests’ serial numbers.
Novak Djokovic, 34, opened up about his “unexpected,” 11-day visa predicament during a Thursday meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The Serbian leader, as a result of his meeting with the tennis star, is accused of using Djokovic to boost his own popularity ahead of the country’s general elections in April.
“I wanted to meet with you today because, primarily as a citizen of Serbia, I felt a great need to thank you for the great support that you, as the president of Serbia, gave me, as well as all state institutions during the unfortunate events in Australia,” Djokovic told Vucic.
“Although I was alone in detention, and faced with many problems and challenges, I wasn’t feeling lonely,” he added, recounting the situation that ultimately led to his deportation from Australia and blocked the top-ranked player from defending his Australian Open title.
“I had huge support primarily from my family, all of the close people in my life, entire Serbian nation, many people with good intentions from the region and the world.”
Djokovic described the events as “unexpected, to say the least,” but did not expound on the details, suggesting that he would provide his “version” of events at a later time. Although the 34-year-old remains unvaccinated after his January 16 deportation from Australia, at least one source is claiming that the top player may consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
“From what I have heard from those around him, I think he is getting vaccinated,” Daniel Muksch, the biographer for Novak Djokovic, told Austrian TV station Servus TV.
Following his deportation, Djokovic’s rival, Rafael Nadal, won the Australian Open championship, marking Nadal’s 21st Grand Slam title, versus the 20 titles accrued apiece by both Djokovic and Roger Federer.
“The prosecution acted according to the regulations, checks were performed, and it was determined that Novak Djokovic was tested several times and that the certificates on the test results from 16 December 2021 and 22 December 2021 are valid,” read a statement issued by Serbia’s state prosecutors on Wednesday.
The tests’ validity was confirmed by the Serbian Health Ministry, according to officials. The Serbian tennis star is expected to return to the court for the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships later this month.