Teenage Aussie tennis star refuses Covid jab, won’t play Australian Open

One of Australia’s brightest young stars is set to refuse a massive grand slam pay day at the Australian Open over her vaccination status.

Australia’s highest-ranked teenage tennis player won’t contest next month’s Australian Open because she doesn’t want to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Olivia Gadecki, who upset 2020 Open champion Sofia Kenin in Melbourne in February, is one of the country’s brightest young prospects.

The 19-year-old was unranked at the start of the year but has rocketed to 237 in the women’s rankings and would have been a strong main draw wildcard contender.

Gadecki, who is working with Sam Stosur’s former coach David Taylor, was welcomed into Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup squad in November in a sign of how highly she is rated.

But she has not entered the grand slam tournament, with strict rules stating that all competing players must be fully vaccinated.

News Corp Australia contacted Tennis Australia about the Gadecki situation on Wednesday but a spokesperson was unable to comment for privacy reasons.

Unvaccinated rising star Olivia Gadecki is unable to play in next month’s Australian Open. Picture: Tennis Australia
Unvaccinated rising star Olivia Gadecki is unable to play in next month’s Australian Open. Picture: Tennis Australia

Sources familiar with Gadecki’s decision wondered whether the teenager realised the far-reaching implications of her decision. It’s believed her stance is family influenced.

France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert also won’t make the trip to Australia because he, too, is unvaccinated and there are likely to be a handful of others in the same position.

Australian Open boss Craig Tiley revealed last week that the vaccination rate among those planning to play at Melbourne Park had surged from about 50 per cent to beyond 95 per cent.

Tiley repeatedly stated in recent times that players must have a double dose of an approved vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson alternative.

They can apply for a medical exemption, as with anyone else, but exemptions are rare – and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews wants Tennis Australia to review any of those cases among global tennis stars.

Olivia Gadecki went from unranked into the world’s top 250 this year. Picture: Tennis Australia
Olivia Gadecki went from unranked into the world’s top 250 this year. Picture: Tennis Australia

Australian tennis great Sam Stosur told News Corp on Monday that she sympathised with those who weren’t willing to be vaccinated but said mandates were the best way forward.

Both Herbert and Stosur believe it will become increasingly difficult to be a professional tennis player for those opting not to be vaccinated.

“I can absolutely see where other people are coming from, but if we want to get on with it and have (any sort of normal life), unfortunately, it’s just the position we’re in,” Stosur said.

“If the mandate’s coming in around the country, why should a sporting event be any different?

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to try and move on from this, and if we can do it well and in a safe way to still be able to enjoy the social aspects of sporting events (it is worth it).”

Carlton’s Liam Jones retired from the AFL in November because he didn’t want to get vaccinated, while AFLW players Georgia Patrikios and Deni Varnhagen are set to sit out next season for the same reason.

Originally published as Teenage Aussie tennis star refuses Covid jab, won’t play Australian Open

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