Under-fire Aussie tennis boss issues denial over Djokovic money
Tennis Australia did not foot the bill for Novak Djokovic’s legal fees during the Serbian star’s battle to remain in the country, chief executive Craig Tiley has claimed.
Reports emerged this week that Tennis Australia had forked out for the legal costs incurred by Djokovic as he fought two court cases to stay in Melboourne before eventually being deported on Sunday.
Breaking his silence, Tiley told the local media on Thursday that those reports were false.
“I have seen those reports today and we don’t really go into the detail of financial arrangements we have with players,” Tiley said in an interview with Channel 9 at Melbourne Park.
“But those reports are simply untrue.”
TILEY SPEAKS 🗣️Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has answered questions about the Novak Djokovic saga for the first time 👇#AusOpen - Live on Channel 9 and 9Now pic.twitter.com/Gx8K4W9YUJ— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 20, 2022
Tiley, 60, has come in for severe criticism for his role in the saga after the unvaccinated Djokovic arrived in Australia with a medical exemption to compete granted by Tennis Australia and Victoria state officials.
The exemption was based on Djokovic’s recovery from a Covid infection in December, although that was deemed insufficient for entry by the federal authorities.
During the scandal it emerged that Tennis Australia had been warned about the issue in a letter from the health authorities in November.
Australian Open director Tiley fended off calls for his resignation as he spoke on Thursday.
“No [I won’t consider resigning]. I am very focused today on delivering a great event,” Tiley said.
“I am proud of being able to stand up here and you can see what is behind us, I am proud of what the team has done and what we have delivered so far.
“We have had four days of unbelievable tennis and great entertainment and we will have that for the next 10 days.”
But during an appearance on court to present retiring Australian icon Samantha Stosur with flowers in what was the final match of her career after she was beaten by Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Tiley was met with a mixture of cheers and some boos from the Melbourne crowd.
Craig Tiley copped a few boos when presenting Sam Stosur with a farewell gift #AusOpen— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshMedia) January 20, 2022
The @TennisAustralia chief executive Craig Tiley says he will not be stepping aside. Denies they have paid @DjokerNole legal fees. But claims every question regarding the process in terms of the saga has been answered. To suggest that is contestable would be an understatement.— Courtney Walsh (@walshcee) January 20, 2022
Elsewhere on Thursday, it was claimed that Djokovic is in talks to sue the Australian government over his treatment, potentially to the tune of more than $4 million – which would include the prize money he stood to win if he had defended his title.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion was deported from Australia on Sunday after it was argued by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke that the Serb’s presence in the country would agitate anti-vaccine sentiments.
Djokovic’s family and Serbian officials including President Aleksandar Vucic have condemned the Australian authorities for their treatment of the star, accusing them of pursuing a ‘witch hunt’ against the world number one for political purposes.
Djokovic, 34, was greeted with a hero’s welcome when he arrived back in Belgrade on Monday.