Novak Djokovic named on Australian Open entry list despite Covid vaccination uncertainty

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Serena Williams
    Serena Williams
    American tennis player
Novak Djokovic named on Australian Open entry list despite Covid vaccination uncertainty - REUTERS
Novak Djokovic named on Australian Open entry list despite Covid vaccination uncertainty - REUTERS

World No1 Novak Djokovic was named on the official entry list for next year's Australian Open on Wednesday but 23-times Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams was absent.

Djokovic has declined to disclose his vaccination status despite all players, officials, staff and fans at the January 17-30 tournament at Melbourne Park needing to be inoculated against COVID-19.

Local media reports said that everyone on the entry list needed to be vaccinated or have a medical exemption. Tennis Australia did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation of that rule.

Djokovic, who will be bidding for a record 21st Grand Slam men's singles title if he plays at the tournament, said last week that he would be making a decision "very soon" about travelling to Australia.

The 34-year-old was also named in the Serbia team for the ATP Cup, which will be held in Sydney in early January when that was released on Tuesday.

To play in Sydney without being vaccinated, the state government would have to apply for an exemption for Djokovic and he would have to undergo 14 days quarantine upon arrival.

Williams, however, will not feature on the basis of "medical advice" but insists she still wants to compete at the "highest level".

Twenty-three-time major champion Williams has not played a single match since she was forced to retire during the first set of her first round match at Wimbledon, and that same hamstring problem kept her out of the US Open in September.

Serena Williams has been injured since Wimbledon. - REUTERS
Serena Williams has been injured since Wimbledon. - REUTERS

Her long-time aim to secure a 24th major title - to equal Margaret Court's all-time singles record - will have to wait until at least the French Open next spring now, as she remains unfit to play.

“Following the advice of my medical team, I have decided to withdraw from this year’s Australian Open," Williams said in a statement posted to her social media on Wednesday. "While this is not an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete.

“Melbourne is one of my favourite cities to visit and I look forward to playing at the AO every year. I will miss seeing the fans but I am excited to return and compete at my highest level.”

Last January, after her Australian Open semi-final loss to Naomi Osaka, Williams tearfully cut short a news conference and some speculated over whether it might be her final appearance at the major.

Williams, who turned 40 in September, won her last grand slam title in Melbourne in 2017, but due to injuries this season has slipped to world no.41, her lowest end-of-year ranking since 2006. It is only the second time she has finished the year outside of the top 30 since 1998.

She follows 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu as the only other female player in the top 100 to not enter the Australian Open. Williams's contemporary Roger Federer is the other notable absentee, confirming last month that his recovery from knee surgery remains ongoing.

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