The Unvaccinated Controversy: McEnroe’s Default and Margaret Court Protests

The history of the Australian Open is filled with controversies, and perhaps one of the biggest occurred even before the 2022 tournament began. Novak Djokovic, an unvaccinated favorite for the tournament, landed in Australia confident he had obtained the required medical exemptions to play. However, upon arrival, he was detained and questioned by border officials in Melbourne, and his visa was cancelled. Djokovic was eventually booted out of Australia at the behest of Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, who claimed Djokovic’s presence could lead to civil unrest due to his perceived association with the anti-vaccine sentiment.
Lleyton Hewitt, a former Wimbledon and US Open winner, was involved in a 2005 tournament controversy when Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela was caught spitting towards Hewitt during a match. Chela later apologized and was fined $2600 for his actions. A significant doping controversy surrounded 1998 champion, Petr Korda, when he tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Nandrolone at Wimbledon. Korda received a one-year ban and later retired.
In 2020, tennis legends John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova protested to demand the renaming of Margaret Court Arena due to Court’s homophobic views. Tennis Australia accused the duo of breaking safety protocols and demanded apologies. McEnroe was also known as “superbrat” for his constant arguing with officials and was disqualified from a 1990 Grand Slam event for misconduct. In 2018, Roger Federer faced accusations of favoritism and receiving an easy ride through the draw during his win at the Australian Open.
During Novak Djokovic’s 2021 quarter-final match, fans displayed pro-Russia symbols in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Djokovic’s father was photographed with the fans but claimed he was unaware of the significance, opting to stay away from his son’s semi-final. In 2003, an Andy Roddick-Younes El Aynaoui night match at the Australian Open took four hours and 59 minutes, ending after a 21-19 fifth set won by the American.