Renata Voracova Detained by Australian Authorities Over Vaccination Status

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 7, 2022

FILE - Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic returns a shot to Shuai Peng of China during a first round match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., on March 10, 2011. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported later Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, that Voracova, a 38-year-old doubles player from the Czech Republic, had her visa canceled and was taken to the same hotel where Novak Djokovic is staying. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File

WTA Tour player Renata Voracova was detained by the Australian Border Force on Thursday ahead of the 2022 Australian Open.

Australia's ABC News reported Friday that Voracova's COVID-19 vaccination status came into question after she'd already played a warm-up tournament in Melbourne.

She received a vaccine exemption from Tennis Australia because she'd recently contracted and recovered from the coronavirus, but Border Force officials informed her she must leave the country, per ABC News.

The Czech Republic Foreign Ministry released a statement (via ESPN) saying Voracova was taken to the same detention facility as ATP Tour superstar Novak Djokovic, whose vaccination status has also left his Austrian Open participation up in the air, and it noted she won't appeal the ruling:

"We can confirm that Czech tennis player Renata Voracova is in the same detention as Djokovic, together with several other players. We submitted through our embassy in Canberra a protest note and are asking for an explanation of the situation. However, Renata Voracova decided to drop out of the tournament due to limited possibilities for training and to leave Australia."

Djokovic's situation has generated worldwide headlines as, like Voracova, he'd received clearance to enter the country after receiving exemption clearance from Tennis Australia.

"I've spent fantastic quality time with my loved ones over the break and today I'm heading Down Under with an exemption permission," he wrote Tuesday on Instagram.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was detained over visa issues upon his arrival, however, and the Border Force said he then "failed to provide appropriate evidence" to back up his exemption status, according to the BBC.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison posted a statement Wednesday on Twitter:

Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP

Mr Djokovic’s visa has been cancelled. Rules are rules, especially when it comes to our borders. No one is above these rules. Our strong border policies have been critical to Australia having one of the lowest death rates in the world from COVID, we are continuing to be vigilant.

Djokovic appealed the ruling and remains detained while awaiting a court case Monday.

The Australian Open is scheduled to begin Jan. 17. Djokovic has won the season's first Grand Slam tournament nine times, including each of the past three years.

Meanwhile, Voracova has played in the Australian Open doubles draw 13 times dating back to 2003 and also played in the singles draw on five occasions. She's never advanced beyond the second round in either event.

The 38-year-old Czech player's best Grand Slam result is a semifinal appearance in the 2017 Wimbledon doubles tournament. 

She's currently ranked 81st in doubles. She doesn't have an active singles ranking.