Less than a week since Novak Djokovic’s Australian deportation the sport is demonstrating its usual crisis amnesia ( what’s happening in the Zverev DV investigation) while Tennis Twitter (TT) continues to ask the important questions!
TT is many things: entertaining, informative, argumentative, even hateful…. In this sphere no one is speared. Tweeters, often more insightful and braver than commentators and journalists, regularly skewer the sport. Here your favorite is hyped, ridiculed and even ignored.
TT has quietly become the de facto news source.
Tennis aficionados run to TT not ESPN, Tennis Channel or the sport’s leaders. Long before SNL lambasted Djokovic’s deplorable vaccine antics, TT had been peeling back the layers of Djokovic’s story and the sport’s duplicitous hand in the debacle. The timeline detailed not only Djokovic’s many missteps and lies, but those of Tennis Australia (Craig Tiley) and Australia’s bungled deportation case.
Given all that has already occurred, it is clear that TT is dubious about the sport’s words and deeds. The veracity of tennis’ quickly evolving vaccination rates have been much discussed. Reports have gone from 65% in September 2021 to 97% January 2022. ESPN recently reported that, “More than 95% of all of the top 100 men and women in their tours’ respective rankings are vaccinated.” ESPN does not give a source, but undoubtedly this is the WTA and ATP. Still, tennis’ vaccination rates lag far behind other sports, and worst the numbers are not from one universally recognized office or leader.
Spain has no mandate, but it urges Djokovic to set an example and get vaccinated.
This is not unusual in tennis! The eleven month global sport has no universal guidelines or rules. And, sadly, it continues to make allowances for its stars. Remember, an unvaccinated Djokovic sought to circumvent Australia’s vaccine mandate; this was not questioned or fined. The No. 1 male tennis player with twenty grand slams and a tumultuous, if not polarizing history even before his Australian deportation, has publically been welcomed by the French Sports Minister to the upcoming French Open. Even with vaccine laws in France, England and America, expect a repeat of the Australian Open debacle at the other grand slams. The sport will continue to shy away from mandating vaccinations, preferring its archaic labyrinth which provides loopholes and exceptions. This is far worst than other sports.
Novak Djokovic is a profile in selfishness, and sports leaders are failing us all.Howard Bryant, ESPN
Less than six months ago, the sport quickly and decidedly united to fine and threaten Naomi Osaka‘s livelihood if she did not participate in post-match news conferences. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, the same leaders of the four Grand Slam tournaments — the Australian, French and United States Opens, and Wimbledon — have yet to uniformly address the issue. Seemingly, neither the health of the players nor the fans is as important as tennis press and marketing.
This is not surprising. The sport has a poor record of crisis management, especially when it involves women, people of color or those who identify as LGBTGIA+. And the one time it got it right Peng Shaui, it quickly fumbled it. The sport has long branded itself with a pristine country club image. Tennis whites. Immaculate courts. Prim and proper. This is a facade. Brilliant marketing. The reality is far darker and sadder. Tennis Twitter brilliantly illuminates this.
Tennis, especially the ATP tour, has now rid itself of this hypocritical brand. The veil of integrity is finally gone. The commission-less sport is in chaos. Australian Open 2022 will forever be linked with this tragedy, the result of a player’s unbridled ego. This is not a growing sport. It is a dying one. ESPN hasn’t aired even aired 50% of this years Australian Open week one matches, pushing their streaming platform. Tennis’ many leaders refuse to acknowledge this as they wrestle the last bit of gold from the sport’s coffers.
Novak Djokovic’s vaccination status is not only unambiguous, it reeks of privilege and distain for the sport and humanity! He has severely dampened his legacy and the sport!
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