Novak Djokovic says he is willing to skip more Grand Slam tournaments rather than accept a vaccine against Covid-19.
Djokovic was deported and barred from playing last month’s Australian Open because of his refusal to take the jab.
His participation in Wimbledon and the French Open could be at risk if he isn’t vaccinated but the Serb says he won’t back down.
“That is the price that I’m willing to pay,” he told the BBC. “Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else. I’m trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can.”
Instead of defending his Australian Open title, Djokovic had to watch rival Rafael Nadal eclipse his mark and win a men’s record 21st Grand Slam in Melbourne.
Australian officials deported him in part because they believed his presence would inflame anti-vax sentiment, but he says he does not align himself with that movement.
“I was never against vaccination,” Djokovic added. “I understand that globally, everyone is trying to put a big effort into handling this virus and seeing, hopefully, an end soon to this virus.”
Djokovic was speaking at length for the first time since his ejection from Australia, which caused a global sensation on the eve of the first major tennis tournament of the year.
He is due to return to the court at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which take place this week.