Wimbledon: Sue Barker introduces Novak Djokovic
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Novak Djokovic took a step closer to winning a 21st grand slam title when he took on Italian challenger Jannik Sinner in his Wimbledon Centre Court quarter-final on Tuesday. The Serb cemented his status as favourite to go all the way once more on the SW19 courts. Djokovic will face British number one Cameron Norrie after he overcame Belgium’s David Goffin in the semi-finals on Friday.
His quarter-final win was watched by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, who made their first Wimbledon appearance.
Kate and William were joined in the Royal Box by the Duchess’ parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, the Duchess of Gloucester, comedian David Walliams and veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby.
Both royals are known to be sports enthusiasts and Kate, who is the patron of the All England Club, is an avid tennis fan and player.
The Royal Family have a long standing connection with Wimbledon, but some members of the Firm are not as keen on the sport as others.
Queen Elizabeth II, for example, has only attended the historic four times, and has not shown much interest in tennis.
But the monarch was brought into an off-the-court matter when Djokovic’s father called for Her Majesty to protect the tennis player’s “human rights”.
In January, Djokovic was held in a Melbourne detention centre following complications over his medical vaccine exemption to compete at the Australian Open.
Djokovic said he had been granted a medical exemption from being vaccinated for the coronavirus, but after his arrival, the Australian Border Force cancelled his visa for failing to meet entry requirements. His visa reportedly didn’t approve COVID-19 vaccine medical exemptions.
Djokovic’s family were outraged at the treatment of their son in Australia, where his medical exemption was initially met with public suspicion.
Speaking to Serbian media at the time, Srdjan Djokovic, the Grand Slam champion’s father, called on the Queen to help “protect” his son.
He said: “I call on the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, the leader of the Commonwealth, to intervene and protect the human rights of my son Novak Djokovic and to stop the political prosecution that has been carried out against him since he came to Australia.”
Her Majesty is understood to have not responded to the request.
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The 35-year-old has been outspoken in his opposition to mandated vaccines in the past, and reports indicate that he revealed to the border officials that he was not fully-vaccinated.
He was held in Melbourne for several days, with his mother describing his living conditions and treatment as “inhumane”.
The tennis star was subsequently forced out of the country and handed a three-year ban by the Government.
A court hearing upheld the decision to cancel his visa “on health and good order grounds”, denying him the opportunity to defend his title in Melbourne earlier this year.
The three-year ban states that Djokovic can not apply for another visa, meaning he could miss out on the Australia Grand Slam for a second successive year.
However, his hopes could be boosted because as of Wednesday, July 6th, Australia is relaxing its Covid regulations.
Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil, announced that people entering the country will no longer have to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) to declare their Covid vaccination status.
All visa holders can also travel to Australia without requiring a travel exemption.
It means that Djokovic would be able to enter the country and compete in the 2023 Australian Open, but the sportsman’s ban would still need to be appealed and/or removed.
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