Serena Williams' decision to begin winding down her tennis career has saddened world number one Iga Swiatek and Belinda Bencic, who defeated the 40-year-old on Wednesday.

Williams announced on Tuesday that she is about to retire, saying "the countdown has begun" as she looks to "move in a different direction".

While the 23-time singles grand slam champion did not put a specific timeline on her remaining days in tennis, her comment about looking for new challenges after "these next few weeks" suggests the US Open – which she has already been included on the entry list for and starts at the end of August – will be her swansong.

That announcement came on the back of Williams' first singles win in 430 days, a defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open in Toronto, but she was subsequently eliminated by Bencic on Wednesday, when the reality of her farewell tour set in.

Williams failed to hold back the tears as she said goodbye to the Toronto crowd for the last time as a player, and Bencic herself could not help feeling a little overcome

She said: "It was definitely very special. I think it was more than just the usual tennis match, also just really exciting, and also a little bit overwhelming for me, of course.

"[It's] great, I can be part of her career and her story and this was just really nice and I'm just really appreciative and honoured to play her so many times, and also here in Toronto.

 

"I mean, she's really the greatest of all time, so it's really exciting. I could have been on the court against her so many times and even today I really enjoyed it a lot. It was sometimes like a pinch me moment again."

Williams finished five different calendar years as the highest-ranked player in the world, a record only Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova can better.

Swiatek, the current world number one, looks to be the best-placed of the next generation to challenge that achievement, though she recognises a degree of fortune in not having to face Williams at the peak of her powers.

"Well it's always pretty sad when you see such a career coming to an end, but on the other hand she's a legend and I feel like she's done so much," Swiatek added.

"It's really amazing. I'm pretty sad that I wasn't able to play against her and experience that her being the strongest one on tour, but on the other hand, I would be losing against her if I played [her at] that time, so that's fine!

"But she's a legend and everything that she has done on court and off court, she's basically a superstar and the way she handled playing tennis and business and also being a mother, it's mind-blowing. So I'm pretty sure that she's going to have a great second part of her career."

The day after declaring her impending retirement, Serena Williams was full of emotion and admitted it had been a "pretty interesting 24 hours" for her.

Williams revealed on Tuesday in an article in Vogue that "the countdown has begun" for her retirement with this month's US Open set to be the 23-time major winner's last tournament.

The 40-year-old was knocked out of the Canadian Open on Wednesday by Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4 and spoke after the match for the first time publicly since declaring her intention to retire.

"It was a lot of emotions obviously," Williams said during the on-court post-match interview.

"I've loved playing here [Toronto], I've always loved playing here. I wish I could have played better but Belinda played so well today.

"It's been a pretty interesting 24 hours."

Williams, who won the first of her 23 Grand Slam titles way back in 1999 at the US Open, was emotional about the reception from fans to her announcement.

"It's just been so memorable," Williams said.

"Like I said in my article, I'm terrible at goodbyes. But goodbye, Toronto."

Williams has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

The former world number one had claimed her first WTA singles win in 430 days on Monday when she defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in preparation for her US Open farewell.

Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career is drawing to a close after the American confirmed on Tuesday that the countdown has begun.

Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

Twenty-three… and counting?

Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

 

The finals hurdle

Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

Top of the pile

It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

Go hard or go home

Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

 

Surface to say…

Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

The grass is greener

Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams, the most decorated tennis player in the open era, has hinted at retirement following the US Open.

One day on from winning her first singles match in 430 days at the Canadian Open, the legendary 23-time grand slam winner confirmed she is "evolving away" from the sport in an interview with Vogue Magazine.

Williams, who is one grand slam title away from matching Margaret Court's all-time record, appears set for one last shot at matching that haul at Flushing Meadows.

With Williams likely to call time on a spectacular career following one last outing at her home slam, below are 10 key quotes from her interview with Vogue.

THE KEY QUOTES

Reluctancy to step away 

"I've been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it's like a taboo topic.

"It's like it's not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I've really gone there with is my therapist."

Evolution

"I have never liked the word 'retirement'. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

"Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is 'evolution'. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me."

No joy in reaching a "crossroads"

"Ashleigh Barty was number one in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on. Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.

"Praise to these people, but I'm going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it's not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. 

"I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it's not. I'm torn. I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."

Family life key

"I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don't think it's fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn't be writing this because I'd be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family. 

"Maybe I'd be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don't get me wrong, I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant.

"A lot of people don't realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give."

Wanting Court's record 

"There are people who say I'm not the GOAT [greatest of all time] because I didn't pass Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the open era that began in 1968. 

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do."

Pride in "extraordinary" record

"If I'm in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn't help. 

"The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth.

"But I didn't get there. 'Shoulda, woulda, coulda'. I didn't show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that's fine. Actually it's extraordinary."

Tiger's advice 

"This spring, I had the itch to get back on the court for the first time in seven months. I was talking to Tiger Woods, who's a friend, and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. He was adamant that I be a beast, the same way he is!"

"Magical" Wimbledon return

"It felt magical to pick up a racket again. And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether to play Wimbledon, and the US Open after that."

"I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York, but I'm going to try."

"Unfortunately I wasn't ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don't know if I will be ready to win New York. But I'm going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun. 

"I know there's a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, 'See ya!' But I'm not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment."

Inspiring female athletes

"I'd like to think that thanks to me, women athletes can be themselves. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. 

"They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all."

Serena Williams has revealed she is about to retire from tennis, announcing "the countdown has begun" with the US Open seemingly set to be her final tournament.

With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams is the most decorated player of the Open Era, but her most recent major success came at the 2017 Australian Open.

The 40-year-old is one title shy of Margaret Court's all-time record and appears set for one last shot at matching the Australian.

Williams wrote on Tuesday of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks" following a long piece in Vogue.

She has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

Posting an image of her interview on Instagram, Williams said: "There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction.

"That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis.

"But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different but just as exciting Serena.

"I'm just going to relish these next few weeks."

Within the Vogue piece, she added: "I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give.

"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me.

"I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

"Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

Williams wrote at length about the reasons for her decision, saying: "I started a family. I want to grow that family."

The American great had hinted at this decision on Monday following her defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open.

That was Williams' first singles win in 430 days, and she said: "I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I don't know, I'm getting closer to the light, so… lately that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light."

When asked what "the light" means to her, Williams responded: "Freedom." She added: "I can't do this forever."

Serena Williams has revealed she is about to retire from tennis, announcing "the countdown has begun" with the US Open seemingly set to be her final tournament.

With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams is the most decorated player of the Open Era, but her most recent major success came at the 2017 Australian Open.

The 40-year-old is one title shy of Margaret Court's all-time record and appears set for one last shot at matching the Australian.

In a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks".

Williams has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

 

Novak Djokovic hopes he could still be allowed to play at the US Open despite refusing a coronavirus vaccination.

The 35-year-old Wimbledon champion has his route to Flushing Meadows blocked by red tape at present, with the United States refusing to allow unvaccinated foreign visitors to enter the country.

US tennis authorities have pledged to adhere to government rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on their entry list.

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it appears he would require a change of policy from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

Djokovic said in a statement on Saturday: "I am preparing as if I will be allowed to compete, while I await to hear if there is any room for me to travel to US. Fingers crossed!"

With 21 grand slam titles, Djokovic sits second on the men's all-time list behind Rafael Nadal, who has 22 victories at the majors.

Djokovic was not allowed to play in Australia, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The three-time US Open winner senses a pull of public support for his situation, as he insists he will not consider receiving a vaccine.

In his message on Saturday, Djokovic said: "I just wanted to take a moment and say to all of you how grateful I am to see so many messages of support and love from all around the world these days.

"I wasn't expecting it, and that's why it feels so mindblowing. Just wanted to say THANK YOU.

"It feels special that people connect with my tennis career in such a loving and supportive way and wish for me to continue to compete."

He has found backing from John McEnroe, the American tennis great, who told Tennis 365 in July: "I hope someone finds a way to sort this out. It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Djokovic lost to Daniil Medvedev in last year's men's singles final in New York, when the current entry rules were not in place.

Senator Marsha Blackburn also spoke out, saying last week that it was "absurd that Novak Djokovic is not allowed to enter the USA".

Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu believes she needs to cut herself some slack as she aims to improve her consistency on the court.

Having made her breakthrough at last year's Wimbledon championships, Raducanu went on to claim a stunning success at the US Open.

The Briton defeated fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in straight sets, becoming the first singles qualifier in the Open Era to win a grand slam title.

Yet with the North American swing fast approaching, Raducanu has not yet come close to replicating that form in 2022.

Indeed, since winning the US Open, she has reached just two WTA Tour-level quarter-finals, while she has failed to progress past the second round in any of the three majors.

While acknowledging she needs to add more consistency to her game, the 19-year-old remains relaxed, insisting she is learning to take a step back and enjoy her situation.

"My goal would be towards consistency," she told the Evening Standard. "But equally, I'm going to try and cut myself some slack.

"I'm young and I have achieved something great. I think I should step back and enjoy it.

"I'd say I am too much of a perfectionist. That drives me crazy sometimes. I obviously think it's a great trait, because I don't think I would have had the results I did without that drive and that wanting to be better.

"But it can be really self-destructive at the same time, because you're never happy and you'll always complain or find something wrong."

The Canadian-born star cites her upbringing, and the high standards set by her parents, as crucial to her success.

She added: "They've always had high standards, and told me when things weren't very good, whereas other people might have wanted to encourage me. My parents always told me how it is, and I always had this sense of wanting to prove them wrong.

"Even in primary school, we had a sprint race on sports day and for seven years straight, I won it. I'm undefeated! I really like to win. I love the fight.

"When things get tough, keep getting yourself back up. Keep persevering. Each time you do, it teaches you a lesson and you accumulate experience. Then you can grow a big bank of knowledge that you can tap into."

Raducanu is ranked 10th in the world by the WTA, and this week joined up with Dmitry Tursunov, who will coach her on a trial basis for next week's Citi Open. She split with former mentor Torben Beltz in April.

Novak Djokovic must be allowed to play at the US Open because a ban over his COVID-19 vaccination refusal would be "crazy", according to John McEnroe.

The Serbian won his seventh Wimbledon title this month, but the All England Club event was just his second major of the year after missing the Australian Open in January.

Djokovic was not permitted to play in the opening major of 2022, where issues surrounding his visa ended with him being deported from Melbourne on public health grounds due to not taking the vaccine.

The 35-year-old hopes to compete at Flushing Meadows in August but has insisted he will not take the vaccination, while the United States is refusing to allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country.

The USTA confirmed it would adhere to US rulings surrounding coronavirus protocols, despite including Djokovic on the entry list for the final slam of the year on Wednesday.

Seven-time major champion McEnroe has previously suggested Djokovic should be allowed to compete and reiterated his calls for the 21-time slam winner to be exempt from vaccination regulations.

 "I mean, we have to find a way to get Novak into the US Open," McEnroe told Tennis365.

"How can he not be there? He has just won Wimbledon, he is a great champion and he should be in the US Open.

"I don't agree with his decision not to get vaccinated, but I respect it. He is one of the fittest guys in the world and everything he puts into his body, he is watching carefully.

"Now we are saying that because of his choice, he can't play at the US Open. I mean, come on. He has already been deported from Australia for the same reason and here we are again."

For Djokovic to be allowed into the United States, it would require a change of tack from law-makers, or he would have to be considered suitable for an exemption.

Among those who would be eligible for such an exemption are "persons whose entry would be in the national interest".

"I hope someone finds a way to sort this out," McEnroe said. "It's crazy that Novak misses the US Open at this stage."

Serena Williams has been named on the entry list for the US Open.

The 23-time grand slam champion withdrew from last year's tournament at Flushing Meadows with a torn hamstring, but she has entered this year's with a protected ranking of 16.

Williams has also been named among the initial entry list for August's Cincinnati Masters as she returns to the US Open Series.

Former US Open champions Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu will also be present in Ohio.

Williams returned to action after almost a year away from the game in the WTA event in Eastbourne in June in the women's doubles, before competing in the singles at Wimbledon.

Following an exciting defeat to Harmony Tan in the first round on Centre Court at SW19, Williams said she was aiming for a US Open return. 

"When you're at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I've won a grand slam, is something that's always super special" she said. "There's definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home."

The 40-year-old will also compete at the Canadian Open next month as she ramps up her preparations for the US Open.

Novak Djokovic looks set to miss the US Open after the USTA confirmed it would respect the United States government's policy regarding unvaccinated travellers from outside the country. 

Djokovic has already missed one grand slam this year, with the 21-time major champion absent from the Australian Open after a protracted saga surrounding his visa ended with him being deported on public health grounds. 

The Serbian was permitted to play at the French Open and Wimbledon, winning the latter for the seventh time in his career, despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

However, he is unlikely to have a chance to compete for a fourth singles title at Flushing Meadows. 

Djokovic was included on the entry list for the final slam of 2022, but the U.S. government does not permit unvaccinated non-U.S citizens to enter the country. 

In a statement released alongside the entry lists, the USTA said: "Per the ITF Grand Slam rulebook, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men's and women's singles main-draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event. 

"The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the U.S. government's position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-U.S. citizens." 

Should Djokovic miss the New York major, it will mean he will not get the chance to play in a grand slam until the 2023 French Open. 

Having had his visa to enter Australia cancelled, Djokovic is banned from re-applying for three years. Unless that ban is reversed or reduced, the 35-year-old may well have played his final Australian Open. 

Djokovic is one major title shy of Rafael Nadal's record of 22 following his four-set win over Nick Kyrgios in the Wimbledon final. 

He reached the final of last year's US Open but lost to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets, preventing him from claiming the calendar Grand Slam. 

A month later, the White House issued a presidential proclamation declaring that non-U.S. citizens must be vaccinated to enter the country, effectively ending his hopes of going one better in 2022. 

Venus Williams will make a long-awaited singles comeback at the Canadian Open next month.

The seven-time grand slam champion has not played a singles match since she lost to Hsieh Su-Wei in the first round at the Chicago Women's Open last August.

But she returned from a leg injury to partner Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon earlier this month, reaching the second round.

The 42-year-old will be back in singles action in Toronto, where the Canadian Open begins on August 8.

Williams' sister, Serena, will also play in the tournament three weeks before the US Open gets under way.

After being handed a wild card, Venus will join the likes of world number one Iga Swiatek in a strong field.

The American made her debut in the hard-court event as a 15-year-old back in 1995, losing to Sabine Appelmans in the first round.

Novak Djokovic intends to compete at the US Open at the end of August, but will not risk a reoccurrence of the vaccination-related furore that saw him deported from Australia.

The Serbian lifted his seventh Wimbledon title earlier this month, moving level with Pete Sampras for the second-most wins at the All England Club, only behind Roger Federer (eight).

Djokovic also returned to just one grand slam title behind Rafael Nadal's record of 22, with the US Open that starts on August 29 the final headline act of the 2022 season.

While Djokovic enjoyed more Wimbledon success, it was only his second major of the year after the world number seven missed the Australian Open in January due to his refusal to be vaccinated.

His insistence to not take the vaccination against COVID-19 also saw him miss the Indian Wells Masters in March, owing to the United States' coronavirus rulings.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

Despite expressing his hopes to feature at the hard-court major, Djokovic insisted he will not be willing to face a repeat of the ongoings in Australia in order to compete.

"I'm not going to go to America if I don't have permission, so the Australian saga for me was not pleasant at all," he said after opening a tennis complex in the Bosnian town of Visoko.

"People still think I forced my way to Australia and tried to come in with no papers, permission or exemption – it is not true.

"That was proven in the court cases, so I would never go into a country where I didn't have permission to travel. I would love to come back to Australia. I love Australia, I had my best Grand Slam results in that country.

"Hopefully I can be there in January because I want to be there, and I also want to be in New York. I want to be in America and everywhere I can possibly play."

 

Djokovic remains hopeful for a change in policy in America given he has no intentions to take the vaccination, nor does he envisage an exemption coming.

"I am a professional tennis player, I don't go into politics or anything else because that doesn't interest me," he added.

"I have my stance and I am a proponent for freedom to choose what is best for you. I respect everything and everybody, and I expect people to at least respect my decision.

"If I have permission, I'll be there. If I don't, I won't be there – it's not the end of the world."

Serena Williams will compete at the Canadian Open among a host of star-studded names as she ramps up her preparations for the US Open.

Williams returned to Wimbledon in June in what was her first singles match since suffering injury in last year's competition at the All England Club.

The 23-time grand slam champion succumbed to a first-round elimination at SW19, though, falling to Harmony Tan on Centre Court.

While Williams, 40, could offer little assurances she would return to the British major, she suggested she would play at the US Open, stating "there's always motivation to get better and play at home".

Williams will be joined in Canada by world number one Iga Swiatek, four-time grand slam winner Naomi Osaka, French Open finalist Coco Gauff and reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu as 41 of the top 43-ranked players descend on Toronto, with the tournament starting on August 6.

It will also mark Williams' first appearance at the event since she finished runner-up to Bianca Andreescu in 2019.

"When you read over that star-studded list, it's hard not to get excited about the WTA Tour making its return to Sobeys Stadium," said tournament director Karl Hale.

"Not only is this one of the strongest, if not the strongest, player list we've ever submitted, but it's also the first time in three years that the [Canadian] Open returns to a full capacity.

"We're thrilled that these players will have a chance to play in front of a packed house, and we're even happier for our fans who will get to watch tennis' very best at the 2022 edition."

Novak Djokovic is hoping for a change of policy to allow him to feature at the US Open after ending an "exhausting and demanding period" by winning his seventh Wimbledon title.

Djokovic clinched his 21st grand slam win by recovering from one set down to beat Nick Kyrgios in Sunday's Wimbledon final, moving to within one major title of Rafael Nadal's record of 22.

On his 32nd grand slam final appearance – an Open Era record – the Serb claimed his fourth consecutive title at the All England Club with a 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory in a tense encounter.

But it has not been plain sailing for Djokovic this year, who missed January's Australian Open after being deported over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and was unable to enter the United States to play the Indian Wells Masters in March.

The United States still does not allow unvaccinated foreigners to enter the country without an exemption – meaning Djokovic's ability to appear in New York is in doubt.

But he is hopeful a change in policy could alter that state of affairs before the tournament gets underway on August 29, as he reiterated he would not get vaccinated and saw an exemption as unlikely. 

"It is a weird situation," Djokovic said. "I am on vacation. It has been quite an exhausting and demanding period for me. I got what I wanted here. 

"I'll wait hopefully for some good news [a change of policy] from the US. I'm not vaccinated and I'm not planning to get vaccinated. I don't think exemption is realistically possible.

"We'll have to see what the schedule looks like then. I doubt I'll chase points. Things have changed in the last year and a half for me. 

"I achieved the historic weeks of being ranked number one, that I worked for all my life. Now I prioritise slams and big tournaments where I feel good."

 

Djokovic's Wimbledon triumph comes at the end of a challenging few months, with the 35-year-old losing year's US Open final and exiting the 2022 French Open to Nadal either side of his much-publicised deportation from Australia. 

And the Serb, who claimed a first career win over Kyrgios on the biggest stage on Sunday, acknowledged: "This year has not been like last year.

"In the first several months of the year I was not at a good place mentally, emotionally. Everything that followed Australia has been a huge challenge and obstacle for me to overcome emotionally. 

"It wasn't that easy to close that chapter. It caused turbulence inside of me and I just had to weather the storm.

"I realised it would take time to regroup and rebalance. All these things off the court were causing so much distraction and pressure for me and the people around me. You can’t pretend it's not happening.

"By Rome and Paris I was already playing the tennis that I want to play. I liked my chances coming into Wimbledon. I think I managed everything pretty well today.

"Now I'm over the moon with joy and happiness of experiencing this moment once again. I don't take any wins for granted, and particularly not in Wimbledon. Every time feels special in its own way.

"Centre court and this tournament still has the most special place in my heart because it has always been my childhood dream tournament. Every time I step out on court it does not feel like anything else. I feel very connected with this court and this tournament. I'm very happy."

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