It is likely that all tennis players who wish to participate in the 2022 Australian Open will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in order to be able to enter the country. Italy’s Camila Giorgi and Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova have recently commented on how they feel about this requirement.
Vaccination rate among WTA players is about 60 percent, five percent inferior to the ATP’s level. Therefore, almost half of all professional tennis players are yet to be fully vaccinated and the Australian Open is just around the corner.
Even though she got vaccinated right after the Olympic Games, world No.37 Ekaterina Alexandrova believes that requirements should be less strict:
I think these measures are too drastic. Vaccination is a voluntary thing, people have to decide for themselves and having people lead you to make that choice is really difficult.
Talking to the press at this week’s Kremlin Cup where she’s awaiting a semifinal match against Maria Sakkari of Greece, Alexandrova explained that the vaccination process was not pain-free in her case:
For three days I didn’t feel well, I was tired and I felt all sore, but I didn’t have a fever. The arm hurt too, but fortunately after three days things went well.
World No.36 Camila Giorgi is not stressing about the situation. She’s vaccinated and doesn’t think about players who are reluctant to get the COVID-19 jab. The Italian also mentioned defending Australian Open men’s singles champion Novak Djokovic, whose vaccination status has remained unconfirmed:
The vaccine situation in Australia? I am vaccinated and have no problems. Already this year there were many restrictions and I believe that in 2022 this will be more organized.
Djokovic? I honestly don’t know what his position is, neither his nor that of the others. The important thing is that I will be there.
Giorgi is playing the Tenerife Ladies Open this week, where she’s awaiting a semifinal meeting with Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia.
Other top WTA players who have been vaccinated include Ashleigh Barty, Sofia Kenin, Petra Kvitova, reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff, Donna Vekic, and Victoria Azarenka.
During the 2021 US Open, former world No.1 and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka envisaged that there was no point in delaying vaccination as it would be mandatory sooner or later:
I want to start this conversation between our players, because to me it’s a bit bizarre that fans have to be vaccinated and players are not. In my opinion, it’s inevitable that it will be mandated at some point. I don’t see the point of stalling it, because I think we all want to be safe, to continue doing our jobs and I know there is a lot of discussions about it.
The WTA and ATP are still not requiring players to be fully vaccinated. As athletes, tennis pros are young and healthy, so a large portion of them probably don’t feel the urgency in protecting themselves against COVID-19. However, they may be forced to get the jab quickly if they want to continue their careers without major disruptions.
Last year, the tennis calendar was ruined by the pandemic and lockdowns. This year things started getting back to normal and I hope that we’ll continue this positive trend into the 2022 season.