▶ Watch Video: Novak Djokovic says he’d rather miss tournaments than get COVID vaccine

The U.S. Open has confirmed that tennis star Novak Djokovic can’t play in the tournament because of his vaccination status. The reigning Wimbledon champion said publicly he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. 

The U.S. Open announced Wednesday the entry lists for players participating in the men’s and women’s singles, which included Serena Williams and Djokovic. Tournament organizers said “all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main-draw field based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.” The tournament begins on August 29. 

While the U.S. Open does not have a vaccine mandate for players, organizers said in a statement that it will “respect the U.S. government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens.” 

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic returns the ball during an exhibition match, organized to mark the opening of a tennis court at the “Archaeological park of the Bosnian pyramid” near Visoko, north of Sarajevo, on July 13. 


The U.S. currently requires non-citizens to be fully vaccinated against COVID in order to enter the country. If not, a person is not allowed to board a flight to the U.S. — unless certain criteria is met. However, there has been no indication Djokovic would fall under any of the categories of exemptions.

Djokovic, 35, won Wimbledon earlier this month, marking his 21st Grand Slam title. He sits one behind Rafael Nadal’s 22 for the most in the history of men’s tennis. The Serbian tennis star expressed waning hopes to play in New York City after winning at the All England Club.

“I believe things will change for Australian Open,” he said on July 16. “For the U.S. Open there is not much time, but hope dies last. I would like to play at the U.S. Open and Australia Open, but even if I do not it’s not the end of the world.”

The U.S. Open’s latest statement has essentially dashed those hopes, while playing in next year’s Australian Open is up in the air. Djokovic notably couldn’t play in this year’s Australian Open because of his vaccination status – and was eventually deported from the country after a failed bid in court to plead for his stay.