Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week that Djokovic, who hasn’t publicly revealed his vaccination status, “didn’t have a valid medical exemption” to the vaccination requirement for arrivals into Australia.
“Like these memes, headlines, this is one of our great champions but at the end of the day, he is human. Do better.”
Djokovic, currently tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 grand slam singles titles and hoping to win his 10th Australian Open title in Melbourne, also received support from fellow player John Isner while the debacle about his visa continues.
“Of course, I don’t like the situation that is happening. In some way, I feel sorry for him. But at the same time, he knew the conditions since a lot of months ago, so he makes his own decision.”
Djokovic’s legal team has sought an urgent injunction against the decision to revoke his visa while he continues to be held in Melbourne. The country’s Federal Court has adjourned the decision until Monday on whether he will be allowed to remain in Australia or be deported, according to Reuters and public broadcaster ABC.
On Friday, Australia’s home affairs minister Karen Andrews said Djokovic is “not being held captive” in the country.
“He is free to leave at any time that he chooses to do so, and Border Force will actually facilitate that,” Andrews told ABC. “It is the individual traveler’s responsibility to make sure that they have in place all the necessary documentation that is needed to enter Australia.”
Andrews’ comments came after Djokovic’s family members back home in Serbia had protested against the actions of the Australian authorities.
“They are holding him captive. Our Novak, our pride. Novak is Serbia, and Serbia is Novak,” Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, said on Thursday.
“They trample Novak, and so they trample Serbia and the Serbian people … They wanted to underestimate him, to bring him to his knees, and not only him, but also our country, our beautiful Serbia.
“We are Serbs, proud European, civilized people. We never attacked anyone, we just defended ourselves.”
Djokovic’s wife, Jelena, took a more mild approach as she spoke publicly about the situation for the first time on social media: “I am taking a deep breath to calm down and find gratitude (and understanding) in this moment for all that is happening,” she wrote on Instagram.
“The only law that we should all respect across every single border is Love and respect for another human being.”
Shortly after midnight in Melbourne on Saturday, Djokovic himself posted on Instagram, writing: “Thank you to people around the world for your continuous support. I can feel it and it is greatly appreciated.”
CNN’s Sophie Jeong, Niamh Kennedy, AnneClaire Stapleton and Jessie Yeung contributed reporting.