Tennis made global headlines outside the sports page, but not for the most ideal of reasons.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic revealed today that both he and his wife Jelena tested positive for the coronavirus after their participation at the recent Adria Tour exhibition event. This is the same event where Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and his pregnant wife, and several others have also tested positive for the virus.
Djokovic, after confirmation of the diagnosis, posted an update and an apology on his Instagram account.
First, let’s all hope that everyone who tested positive remains healthy and has a speedy recovery.
But, and a big but, despite Djokovic’s best intentions, the entire Adria Tour event has proven to be a very, very, very ill-advised venture. Not only on Djokovic’s part, but for everyone who participated.
Once again, the world has been shown that to not take this virus seriously, or to think that just because it’s summer that things will get better, is very foolish.
The fallout from Djokovic’s participation and promotion of the event, including video of the now infamous player party, will haunt Djokovic for the rest of his life and career. Especially if more cases resulting from the event emerge.
The question now is how does the rest of pro tennis respond.
Several other pro exhibition events have started including the “Battle of the Brits” featuring Andy Murray and the Credit One Bank Invitational in Charleston, South Carolina that features an all WTA field in a team event. These events, to their credit, are enforcing social distancing and health and safety measures not seen during the Adria Tour.
But the true test is set to come later this summer when regular tour events resume along with the US Open and later in the year with the French Open.
While the current slate of exhibitions and the upcoming majors are all emphasizing much more stringent social distancing and safety measures than took place with the Adria Tour, the question remains, is it all worth it?
Just to restart the pro tennis season and allow players, those that work in the tennis world, and the tournaments themselves, to, and let’s be blunt, essentially try and make some cash, in some capacity.
Tennis is basically a sport of independent contractors, more or less, who make their own decisions, so one has to hope that everyone is making the best decision moving forward.
Especially after today’s news.