Novak Djokovic has strongly claimed that freedom of speech is now an ‘illusion’ as he hits back at scrutiny over his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid.
It has been a rollercoaster year for the Serbian and it started when he was deported from Australia in January due to his unvaccinated status, despite initially being given a medical exemption to compete at the Open.
Djokovic was detained upon his arrival at Melbourne Airport where he was eventually deported home just a day before the tournament begun – leading to a long legal battle.
The former world No 1 then competed at the French Open and was crowned champion at Wimbledon later in the year.
Although he faced more heartache when he banned from events in both Miami and Indian Wells before he also opted to withdraw from the US Open as their travel rules preventing him entering the country unless he got vaccinated.
Djokovic has, however, hit back at those claims by insisting he simply wants freedom of choice when putting things into his body.
‘People sometimes think I’m fake, that I do certain things because I want to be loved,’ Djokovic told Italian newspaper outlet La Stampa.
‘It’s not like that, I’m just trying to be genuine. It’s something we’re losing.
‘It is not possible to please everyone but by now the politically correct forces us to give up expressing our ideas with respect, without hatred, but with freedom. Freedom of speech for me today is just an illusion.’
He added: ‘I had an extraordinary example of this this year, with what happened to me around the vaccine issue,’ he added.
‘I expressed myself for the freedom to be able to dispose of one’s body, and immediately I was accused of being a no-vax, which I am not. If you don’t belong to a certain way of thinking, you quickly become the bad guy. That’s not good.’
Novak Djokovic, who will compete in the Australian Open this year after his visa ban was scrapped, is currently unbeaten at the ATP Finals in Turin.
He battled to a three-hour victory over Daniil Medvedev in his latest match as the Serbian continues to overcome the battle of criticism this year.
Djokovic was already guaranteed to top the group and play Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals on Saturday but he dug deep to avoid defeat, completing a 6-3 6-7 (5) 7-6 (2) victory after three hours and 11 minutes.
The 35-year-old was clearly struggling physically late in the second set and into the third and Medvedev served for the match at 5-4 in the decider, but Djokovic found a way back.