Wimbledon chief reacts to Novak Djokovic’s ‘disappointing’ Adria Tour


Djokovic is Wimbledon’s reigning champion (Picture: Anychance/Getty)

Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour has been branded as ‘disappointing’ by the All England Club’s chief executive, Richard Lewis, amid a coronavirus outbreak at the Balkans event.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, and his wife tested positive for Covid-19. He was one of four Adria Tour players to do so along with compatriot Viktor Troicki, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Croatia’s Borna Coric.

The string of positive tests emerged after social distancing measures weren’t properly enforced.

Full crowds packed into stadiums in Belgrade and Zadar. Players mingled with fans, high-fived, hugged and played contact sports with each other, while several – including Djokovic and top-10 players Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem – partied topless at a nightclub.

Djokovic’s event has already been described as ‘not a great look’ for tennis by former Wimbledon champion Murray, particularly ahead of non-exhibition tennis’ planned return in August.

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Wimbledon chief Lewis admitted the scenes in Belgrade and Zadar were ‘disappointing’ but hopes that an ‘important lesson’ has been learned.

‘Yes, the first thing I’d say is that we wish everyone a speedy recovery, because there’s been quite a few people infected,’ Lewis said in a virtual briefing with British media on Wednesday.

Lewis said the images were ‘disappointing’ (Picture: Visionhaus/Getty)

‘The images were disappointing and I think that, for the benefit of international tennis now, what needs to come out of it is everybody involved – not just players, but administrators, organisers, entourages – everybody needs to understand that the protocols, rules and regulations around Covid-19 are in place in international tournaments for a reason.

‘And that’s a really important lesson to learn. I would hope from an organisers’ point of view – let’s say the US Open and Roland Garros, but also the other international tournaments – that protocols will be easier to enforce and observed than they otherwise might have been. It was an unfortunate situation.’

With The Championships cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are no plans for All England Club chiefs to speak to Djokovic, but Lewis reminded him of the ‘leadership role’ sportsmen and women have to play.

‘I think it’s a fact in this day and age that all sportsmen and sportswomen have a leadership role that goes with the territory,’ added Lewis.

‘I’m lessons will have been learned, and I sincerely hope – and I believe – that when international tennis tournaments resume, that the sport will be all the better… not better, but be more disciplined and follow the protocols in place at whatever tournament is being staged at the time.’

Djokovic’s position as ATP council president could be under threat after the Adria Tour fiasco but Lewis insists All England club chiefs will work with whoever is democratically elected to the position, including Djokovic.

Djokovic and Dimitrov played basketball together (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Asked if he was comfortable dealing with the council while it’s being led by Djokovic, Lewis answered: ‘What I’d say to that is the ATP and the WTA are both democratic organisations.

‘They have players elected, and we respect the the ATP and the WTA, so we will always work with those organisations.

‘It’s a matter for them who they appoint and elect, and we’ll work with whoever’s in place.’

MORE: Jamie Murray: Novak Djokovic and co. ‘have not covered themselves in glory’ amid Adria Tour coronavirus outbreak

MORE: Novak Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus

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