Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka believes the whole Novak Djokovic saga could have been avoided if there was a ‘black-and-white’ approach to vaccination for tournaments.
World No 1 Djokovic and Czech doubles specialist Renata Voracova were deported from Australian despite receiving medical exemptions to play in the Grand Slam.
“This could have been addressed way earlier than it was. What happened after, I don’t believe there was anybody who looked good in any case,” said Azarenka, who is on the WTA player council.
“I think as soon as there is a grey area in the rules, that gives a bit too much questions, and situations like this happen.”
The Australian Open is the first tournament to have a vaccine mandate. But it had been a trend setter with the French Open also announcing that only vaccinated players will be allowed to compete.
“I believe in science, in getting vaccinated. That’s what I did,” said Azarenka, reiterating her stance.
“I don’t want to push my beliefs on everybody else. However, we are playing a global sport and are traveling around the world.
“As an entity, as an association of the WTA that is traveling globally, we still have to respect countries, different countries, different mandates, different legalities of the country.
“For me, there is a social responsibility for other people who are much more vulnerable maybe than us. I definitely look at it from that point, as well.”
Though neither the ATP or WTA has made it compulsory for its players to be vaccinated, they encourage players to get inoculated from a safety as well as logistical point of view.
More than 80 per cent of the WTA players have been fully vaccinated, while the ATP revealed last week that 97 of the top 100 male players had done so.
“To impose something legally on the WTA Tour can be a challenge,” said Azarenka, ranked No 25 in the world.
“I think that’s something that we are facing.
“I don’t necessarily say that getting vaccinated then nobody will be sick, but I think it is a step to hopefully battle against this coronavirus, hopefully bring it down globally.”