Novak Djokovic on accusations he is ‘fake’ and being the ‘bad guy’ for expressing freedom of speech

Novak Djokovic speaks to the media

In a candid interview, Novak Djokovic has lamented how he is often accused of doing “certain things because he wants to be loved” while he also believes politically correctness has resulted in “freedom of speech being just an illusion”.

It has been a turbulent 2022 for the former world No 1 as he was deported from Australia at the start of the year due to his unvaccinated status with many criticising him for refusing to get inoculated against Covid-19. Some even went as far as describing him as the head of the anti-vax movement as the then Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke revoked his visa on health and safety grounds.

He was also forced to miss the North American hard-court swing, including the US Open, as unvaccinated foreigners were not allowed to enter Canada and the United States at the time.

Djokovic, who will return to Australia next year after his visa ban was scrapped, has always maintained that he is not anti-vax as it is simply a case of wanting the freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what he puts in his body.

“I know that people sometimes think I’m fake, that I do certain things because I want to be loved. It’s not like that, I’m just trying to be genuine. It’s something we’re losing,” he told La Stampa.

“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.

“I expressed myself for the freedom to be able to […decide what to put in your] body, and immediately I was accused of being a anti-vax, which I am not. If you don’t belong to a certain way of thinking, you quickly become the bad guy. That’s no good.”

It wasn’t just the media that criticised him, he also copped a lot of flak from politicians from all sides of the globe.

But Djokovic is not interested in politics as he just wants to focus on health and how to make tennis better.

“Anything that has to do with health. But I’m also interested in talking about what’s wrong with the tennis world,” he said.

“A sport that as popularity and spread comes after only football and NBA basketball, which is followed and played everywhere, even in China there are so many courts. However, it only gives a living to 500 people: does that seem possible to you?

“Media manipulation is also involved here: we only talk about those who win a Slam, and not the thousands of players around the world who do not have the opportunity to make a living out of it.”

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