Novak Djokovic has spoken for the first time since being deported from Australia for being unvaccinated. The world number one says that he is ready to forgo Rafael Nadal's record and skip the French Open and Wimbledon if the vaccination against Covid-19 is required for him to participate.

The Serbian tennis star endured a difficult time in Melbourne with his visa getting cancelled twice. He also spent time in detention on two separate occasions. Djokovic was finally deported, and was not allowed to defend his title at the 2022 Australian Open, which was eventually won by long-time rival Nadal.

Since the Australian Open debacle, a number of tournaments including the French Open have indicated that they will require players and staff to be fully vaccinated to play. Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, is clear that he is willing to "pay that price" and forgo the chance of adding to his 20 men's singles Grand Slam titles.

Novak Djokovic
Chairman of the board! Novak Djokovic holds the winner's trophy in front of the honours board and points to his name AELTC/Thomas Lovelock/POOL

"Yes, that is the price that I'm willing to pay," Djokovic told the BBC's Amol Rajan in an exclusive interview when asked if he was willing to skip playing at Ronald Garros and Wimbledon.

Djokovic made it clear that he was not supporting the anti-vax agenda and simply believes that every person has the right to choose what they "put in their body." The Serb feels that it is more important than any title or record that he will miss out on by skipping major tournaments.

"I was never against vaccination," he said, confirming that he'd had vaccines as a child, "but I've always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body."

"Because the principles of decision making on my body are more important than any title or anything else, I'm trying to be in tune with my body as much as I possibly can," he added when asked about catching Nadal, who won his 21st Grand Slam title in Australia earlier this year.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are on collision course in the French Open Thomas SAMSON/AFP