Novak Djokovic felt like the "villain of the world" when he put his tennis career on the line by refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 36-year-old sports star - who won the US Open on Sunday (10.09.23) marking his 24th grand slam title victory - has opened up about his decision to refuse a coronavirus jab which meant he was booted from Australia in January 2022 over his vaccination status and unable to compete in both the Australia and US Open that year.
During an interview with fellow tennis star John McEnroe for his 'McEnroe's Places' TV show, Djokovic explained his stance on vaccines, saying: "I was never anti-vax. I was always pro-freedom-to-choose. And that's something that we took really for granted. I didn't feel like a lot of people had a choice, really ...
"[I felt like I was] a villain of the world ... I just wanted to compete and I wanted to play tennis because that's what I do best."
Djokovic has previously insisted he was never an 'anti-vaxxer' but wanted the freedom to choose, telling the BBC: "I was never against vaccination, but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body. "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."
He added that he has "always been a great student of wellness, wellbeing, health, nutrition" and his decision on the COVID-19 jab was partly influenced by concern over how factors such as diet and sleeping patterns can impact his abilities as an athlete.