Tennis star Novak Djokovic was welcomed back to his home country by a crowd of thousands Monday, after the Serbian athlete took home his fourth consecutive victory at the prestigious Wimbledon tournament.
While Djokovic has become a frequent corporate media target over his decision to forgo COVID-19 vaccination, thousands of Serbians gathered Monday night to welcome the tennis star home and offer him their support.
“Thousands of people came tonight to greet one of the greatest Serbian athletes of all time, and a national hero who would rather risk his career than submit to the NWO,” wrote Based Serbia, a Twitter account devoted to conservative politics in Serbia.
On Sunday, Djokovic defeated Australian Nick Kyrgios to win his seventh overall title at the Wimbledon Championship, which is widely considered tennis’s most prestigious major tournament. The moment marked a high point in what has been an up and down year for Djokovic, who has suffered frequent setbacks over his decision to remain unvaccinated.
Earlier this year, the 35-year-old athlete was deported from Australia, where he was staying at the time, because of his decision to forgo a COVID vaccine. Though Djokovic subsequently appealed the decision, an Australian court upheld the ruling, striking down his visa and deporting him from the country.
At the time, Djokovic criticized Australian authorities while indicating he would comply with the decision.
“I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the minister’s decision to cancel my visa,” Djokovic said, adding that the court’s decision meant he would be unable to “stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open.”
Djokovic will also likely be unable to compete in the upcoming US Open tennis tournament, owing to the United States’ requirement that foreign travelers entering the country be vaccinated. The tennis star has expressed a hope that US authorities rescind the vaccine entry mandate in time for the August tournament.
“I’m not vaccinated, and I’m not planning to get vaccinated, so the only good news I can have is them removing the mandated green vaccine card or whatever you call it to enter [the] United States — or exemption,” Djokovic said.