Djokovic Man Down Under. Say What ... Serena Unretiring?

Oct 27, 2022, 2:12:00 PM | by Craig Gabriel

Question marks have dominated in tennis lately. There is the question of Novak Djokovic and Australia with some blinkered comments from former player Jean Rene Lisnard, and Serena Williams has people questioning the "R" word, writes Craig Gabriel, who has a thought on what might happen Down Under with Novak.



The will he, won’t he saga has begun in Australia over whether Novak Djokovic is going to be at the Australian Open. He still must be given an exemption from the Federal Government and Tennis Australia is rightly staying out of the discussions. There is nothing the latter can do anyway.

The former French and Monegasque player Jean Rene Lisnard recently got involved in the discussion and put his two euros thoughts into the situation telling Sport Express Russia that only the tournament will struggle without Djokovic present and not the player.

He said: “Djokovic is Djokovic, and he will remain so regardless of participation or non-participation in the Australian Open. He is Superovich.”

Superovich? Wondering if that is a new character from Marvel or DC Comics.

“If he does not play in this or that tournament, what will happen to him? Only the tournament will suffer. He fights for his rights – and I think he is right,” Lisnard said. “Before I really didn’t like him, but the further this whole situation went, the more sympathy I felt for him. He is the only one in this tennis world who can call a spade a spade and do what he wants. This commands great respect.”

Lisnard could not have been in Melbourne for the last Australian Open, or for that matter at last month’s US Open, two majors where Djokovic was not allowed to compete. Sure, there was a lot of talk leading into those events about the Serbs situation but once the respective tournaments started the talk of Novak was barely raised.


Both tournaments were overwhelming successes with record crowds. In fact, one could go beyond overwhelming and say they were stunning successes. To be brutally honest, Novak was not missed. Let’s not forget Serena Williams nor Roger Federer were at the Australian Open either, and their names were not raised, and Williams did not go beyond the third round at the US Open.

It is a given that every tournament would be thrilled to have every big-name player in their draw but there are also guidelines that have to be followed. Novak has not adhered to those rules. Absolutely, one should respect him for upholding his beliefs but if those beliefs go against the rules and guidelines set down, and you want to continue to take a stand, then you also have to accept the consequences.

Djokovic must apply to the Australian government to have the three-year entry ban lifted.

“When it comes to Australia, there are some positive signs, but unofficially,” Djokovic said. “We are communicating through my lawyers in Australia. In fact, they are communicating with the authorities in charge of my case.

“I hope to have an answer in the next few weeks – whatever the answer might be, but of course I am hoping for a positive one so that I have enough time to prepare for the start of the season, if that start is going to happen in Australia.”

How the government actually responds is anyone’s guess but what could very likely happen is that they reject his application for this first year of the ban as it may be viewed as too soon.

What Jean Rene Lisnard does not seem to realise and apparently has not grasped, which is surprising, is that no one player is bigger than the game. There will always be someone there to take their place. That goes for Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Serena Williams and company.


Speaking of Serena Williams … didn’t she say she was hanging up the racquets and that the loss she had to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open was her last professional match. Notice the word “retirement” was not used, after all Serena does not like the “R” word because it is not modern. But anyway, she was “evolving” to other roles.

Is she going to do a Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps or a Martina (Hingis and Navratilova) who all made comebacks?


She recently teased things when she said chances of her returning to the court “are very high”. Williams admitted it’s been tough to remove herself from a way of life that dominated her routines for a couple of decades.

“I did wake up the other day and I went on the court, and I was like, ‘Oh, for the first time in my life, I’m not playing for a competition, and it felt really weird,” Williams said. “It was like the first day of the rest of my life, and so far, I am enjoying it. But I'm still trying to find that balance.”

It is just so difficult for someone who has had one specific mindset forever with the adrenaline rush of competition, training, winning, to go cold turkey. It takes a long time for things to change and adjust.