Djokovic's wife calls for 'love and forgiveness' as tennis star held in anti-vax row

6 January 2022, 15:18 | Updated: 7 January 2022, 09:30

Jelena Djokovic has broken her silence over her husband's detainment
Jelena Djokovic has broken her silence over her husband's detainment. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Novak Djokovic's wife has called for "forgiveness" and said love is "the only law that we should all respect" amid an ongoing diplomatic row over her husband's Australian visa status.

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Jelena Djokovic took to Twitter to thank people for their support for her husband, and said she was finding "gratitude" in his situation despite the fact they could not be together.

"It's Christmas today for us, my wishes are for everyone to be healthy, happy, safe and together with families," she wrote.

"We wish we are all together today, but my consolation is that at least we are healthy. And we will grow from this experience.

"Thank you dear people, all around the world for using your voice to send love to my husband. I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening.

"The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being. Love and forgiveness is never a mistake but a powerful force."

The men's world number one was denied entry to Australia on Wednesday before being moved to a quarantine hotel in Melbourne.

It came after a huge backlash over the decision to grant Djokovic an exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated against Covid in order to play in the upcoming Australian Open, one of the main tennis competitions in the calendar.

Novak Djokovic's father has compared the embattled tennis star to slave revolt leader Spartacus, telling reporters: "Tonight they can throw him in a dungeon, tomorrow they can put him in chains.

"The truth is he is like water and water paves its own path.

"Novak is the Spartacus of the new world which won't tolerate injustice, colonialism and hypocrisy."

Read more: Novak Djokovic to be held in Australia detention hotel for days in vaccine row

Spartacus was a gladiator who led a slave uprising against ancient Rome, which enjoyed major success as it campaigned throughout Italy, and is held up today as a prime example of a freedom fighter.

Djokovic, meanwhile, holds the joint record for the most men's grand slam titles - 20, alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The decision to grant the Serb exemption from vaccine requirements provoked a backlash in a country that has imposed tight Covid restrictions since the pandemic began.

Djokovic has not publicly disclosed his vaccination status and has been considered an opponent of the jabs.

On Wednesday, it was announced that a visa error, apparently caused by a member of his support team, had prevented him from gaining entry.

His father had said he was being held in a room guarded by police after getting stuck at Melbourne airport, but the star will wait for his hearing in a hotel.

Djokovic's mother, Dijana, has said "they want to clip his wing".

Relatives say the visa issue arose because of a "political agenda".

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has insisted Djokovic would not receive special treatment.