Czech veteran kicked out of Australia expresses Djokovic hopes
Czech tennis player Renata Voracova wants compensation from Tennis Australia and spoke of her horror at being detained Down Under, although she hopes Novak Djokovic is still be able to defend his Australian Open crown.
The 38-year-old Voracova initially managed to enter Australia after being granted a vaccine exemption on the grounds of contracting Covid last month.
Touching down in the country earlier than Djokovic, Voracova even took part in a warm-up tournament in Melbourne until her case came under more scrutiny once the men's world number one had his visa canceled.
Detained in the same Melbourne immigration hotel as Djokovic, Voracova left Australia on Saturday but does not harbor any hard grudges against the Serbian despite feeling that she could be playing at the upcoming Grand Slam in Melbourne were it not for the drama surrounding his case.
"Hopefully he can play. Because that is what we went there for: to play tennis and not be part of any inside games," she stressed to Reuters.
"I was there already for one week and since he arrived things changed," she claimed, adding: "I am not mad at him.
"I am really sad that this happened. It's one of the biggest tournaments. You go there and this happens. You can't even imagine it is possible in the 21st century to happen in this country."
Voracova described her detention by the Australian Border Force, detailing how she was escorted from her original accommodation.
"We didn't even use the normal lifts," she recalled.
"We went through side lifts and different ways (through the hotel) where people couldn't see me. And then we went to the garage where there was a van," she said.
"I really didn't know after questioning what I was supposed to do, what my rights are. There were people with me from Tennis Australia, lawyers who were helping me.
"And they didn't appeal to (the) court. So I didn't know I could do it. I just followed the advice they give me," Voracova explained, of a six-hour interrogation before being made to stay at a government hotel with locks on the windows and guards in the corridor.
"It is a big relief that I am home finally," she admitted.
"During the day I didn't feel really good, I couldn't sleep at all, and I was not eating much."
To a compatriot newspaper, Denik, Voracova said that she was "not thinking about tennis" and is "still waking up from the shock".
"I haven't processed it yet. I'm exhausted. I didn't expect that in the darkest dream, it was just too much," she added, while confessing to breaking down during grilling from the authorities before her visa was ripped up.
"I was worried. I didn't feel safe until I was back home, nothing was certain.
"It was as if I were watching a film – a long interrogation with instructions such as 'undress, get dressed'. Yuck, I don't even want to think about it, let alone live it again."
To the same publication, the doubles world number 82 has revealed plans to demand compensation that "won't be small".
"The air ticket alone cost 60,000 Czech crowns ($2,780) and my coach traveled with me. And then there is all that time, hotels, training for the Grand Slam, the potential prize money.
"I hope Tennis Australia will face up to it and that we won't have to take legal steps," finished Voracova.
Djokovic won his court appeal on Monday against the cancelation of his visa but could yet meet the same fate as Voracova if Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke personally intervenes against the unvaccinated star.
Hawke said on Tuesday he was still "thoroughly" considering the case, while in a new twist to the saga Djokovic was accused of potentially providing misleading information about his travel movements before arriving in Australia.
The case is set to drag on until at least Wednesday as the start date for the Australian Open fast approaches on Monday, January 17.