Novak Djokovic announced on Tuesday that he and his wife, Jelena, had tested positive for coronavirus. He recently organised a series of exhibition matches in Serbia and Croatia and is the fourth player there to test positive.
“Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with. I am hoping things will ease with time so we can all resume lives the way they were,” Djokovic said in a statement. “I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.”
As the Associated Press noted, Djokovic’s stance on tennis’s handling of the pandemic has been a recurring story since professional tours were suspended in March. In April, for instance, he said he wouldn’t want to take a vaccine to compete. The U.S. Open is planning to begin in August without spectators and with smaller player entourages, and Djokovic has expressed doubts about whether he’d go given the restrictions.
Faced with these potential alterations to the sport, Djokovic launched the Adria Tour, which drew criticism for its lack of social distancing and regulations. One viral video showed Djokovic and other players clubbing. The Croatia tournament’s final was canceled on Sunday after Grigor Dimitrov revealed he’d tested positive; Djokovic initially declined to be tested because he didn’t feel any symptoms, before eventually saying on Monday that he would undergo a test. Some of those decisions have come into renewed focus this week:
Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid – 19. Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake. https://t.co/lVligELgID
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 23, 2020
The British player Dan Evans said in a press conference on Monday, “I don’t think you should be having a players’ party and dancing all over each other and then two very good players test positive,” referring to Dimitrov and Borna Coric.
The fallout could continue to reverberate in the sport. The Guardian suggested that the rescheduled major tournaments (August’s U.S. Open in New York and September’s French Open in Paris) might now be in jeopardy, and that Djokovic could be pressured to step down as players council president for the Association of Tennis Professionals.