Tennis star Renata Voracava speaks out from Australian detention center after having visa revoked

Czech tennis player Renata Voracova, who is placed in the same Melbourne detention center where Novak Djokovic is believed to be staying after both had their Australian visas revoked, says her stay so far has felt like being “in prison”.

Voracova entered Australia claiming an exemption from the country’s tight Covid-19 vaccine requirements. In similar circumstances to Novak Djokovic, she found herself in detention after Australian border authorities determined both players had not in fact met entry requirements.

“I’m in a room and I can’t go anywhere,” the 38-year-old Voracova, ranked 81st in doubles, told the Czech newspapers DNES and Sport on Friday. “My window is shut tight, I can’t open it five centimeters,” she said. “And there are guards everywhere, even under the window, which is quite funny. Maybe they thought I would jump and run away,” added Voracova, labelling the hotel as “a better dormitory”.

“They bring me food and there’s a guard in the corridor. You have to report, everything is rationed. I feel a bit like in prison.”

Unvaccinated against Covid-19, Voracova was permitted to enter on an exemption provided by Tennis Australia for her to play in the Australian Open after recovering from the disease late last year. But the Australian government says recent infection is not an acceptable reason for foreign nationals to gain entry without being fully vaccinated.

“The federal officials let me in immediately. I was held at the Victoria state checkpoint as they sent my papers somewhere, but then they confirmed I was free to enter without problems,” she said.

Voracova played in a doubles match at the Melbourne WTA event in the run-up to the Australian Open starting on Jan 17. However, on Thursday local authorities revoked her visa, interrogated her for several hours and sent her into quarantine at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.

Voracova plans to return home. She said that she may have ended up in detention due to the attention paid to Djokovic. “I would have to ask for another visa and wait for a week, locked up in a hotel, without training… It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “So I’m waiting for a permit (to leave), on Saturday perhaps.”

“I don’t understand why they would come to me after a week and say, look, the rules that applied do not apply anymore.” Voracova offered her best wishes to Djokovic. “I would like them to let him play. We are athletes, we have come here to play tennis and not to deal with disputes behind the scenes,” Voracova said.

She also praised Djokovic’s fans who supported him in the street outside the hotel. “They sing, they chant. They have even chanted my name. There are crowds of fans. I guess they work shifts.”




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