Victoria Azarenka hits out at Australian Open email leak as Novak Djokovic still in doubt

Tennis: Victoria lockdown bans fans at Australian Open

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Victoria Azarenka has hit out after an email from the WTA Players’ Council detailing current plans for the Australian Open was leaked. The council sent an email out to players after communicating with Tennis Australia, who said unvaccinated players could compete in the Grand Slam subject to a two-week ‘hard’ hotel quarantine. Under such rules, nine-time champion Novak Djokovic could return to defend his crown.

It had been looking increasingly likely that unvaccinated players would be banned from the upcoming Australian Open, as Djokovic admitted he was unsure on going.

Government ministers had been looking to introduce a vaccine mandate, but a leaked email from the WTA Players Council revealed that current plans were set to allow unjabbed players into the tournament.

After a call with Tennis Australia, the council sent the letter to WTA Tour players confirming that tournament organisers were feeling positive that unvaccinated players could enter the tournament, though would be required to undergo a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.

The email disclosed that conditions for players would be improving “significantly”, while the qualifying event would return to Melbourne after it was originally set to take place across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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Fully vaccinated players will now not be required to quarantine or stay in a bubble, and will have complete freedom of movement with no ongoing restrictions imposed on them.

Although it was feared players who had not been jabbed would be banned, the tournament is currently anticipating they can compete “but will be subject to two weeks hard quarantine”, “are required to go through mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days upon arrival” and “must submit to regular testing”.

The email also asked recipients to “please keep this information confidential until the government make an official announcement.”

The Players’ Council also wrote: “Tennis Australia has asked us to wait a few days before speaking about it as they were still working with the government on the details.”

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However, since the email was leaked on Sunday (October 24), former WTA Players’ Council member Victoria Azarenka has since spoken out.

After a screenshot of the email was first tweeted by reporter Ben Rothenberg, the two-time Australian Open champion took to Twitter to write: “The fact that this was shared to players confidentially and within 2 hours Ben you are posting this.

“You clearly haven’t read the email. Unless I missed the point that you are a wta player now?”

After he responded pointing out that it was his job to disclose important information concerning tennis tournaments and players, and said her issue with the leak should be with the “leaker(s)”, Azarenka said ‘they’ would do that.

The former world No 1 replied: “I think we will definitely do that. I always respect the reporters and what you guys do. Without a doubt.

“However this is not the case here. It’s your duty to report things if they are not reported, but to leak information before it’s officially announced is clickbait.”

Since the email was leaked, some Australian government officials have doubled-down on their stance on banning unvaccinated players.

Australian newspaper The Age reported that the leak may have caused a “setback” in plans to allow those who hadn’t been jabbed to compete.

Meanwhile, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told ABC Radio: “You try getting into the US… most of Europe, really, so many different parts of Asia if you haven’t been vaccinated. Like, you’re just not getting a visa. Why would that be different here?

“I don’t think it’s too much to say, ‘If you want one of those visas and you want to come here, then you need to be double-vaxxed’.”
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