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MELBOURNE, Australia (LifeSiteNews) — Tennis star Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open one year after being barred from the tournament and deported from the country for refusing to take the COVID injections. 

“This probably is the, I would say, biggest victory of my life,” Djokovic declared after winning the Final in three sets against his opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

Last year, there was a back-and-forth between Djokovic and Australian authorities regarding the tennis star’s vaccination status and his invitation to play in the prestigious tournament. The Serbian star had initially been granted a medical exemption to the COVID jab requirement allowing him to participate in the Australian Open. However, disputes over an alleged discrepancy in his visa application, as well as allegations that he did not observe quarantine requirements while in Australia, led to his visa being canceled. 

An Australian court then overruled the visa cancellation, and it looked as though the Serbian could stay in the country and compete in the Australian Open. However, in a highly controversial move, immigration minister Alex Hawke overruled the court decision and canceled Djokovic’s visa for the second time, forcing him to leave the country. 

With the redemptive victory at this year’s Australian Open, Djokovic tied Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles in the sport’s history at 22. The Serbian tennis star now has 10 Australian Open wins, also an all-time record. Furthermore, the win put Djokovic back on top of the ATP rankings. He has held onto the No. 1 spot on the ATP ranking for a total of 374 weeks, more than any other athlete in history. 

Bill Gates, one of the most prominent financial sponsors of vaccine development and production, was in attendance in Melbourne to watch the unvaccinated Djokovic win his 22nd Grand Slam title. 

Reignite Democracy Australia, the organization of Australian freedom and human rights activist Monica Smit, recognized the irony of Gates watching Djokovic win. The organization posted a picture montage featuring the two prominent figures. 

“Novak was banned from playing the Australian Open last year because he is unvaccinated…comes back this year to STEAL THE SHOW. Legendary,” Reignite Democracy Australia wrote in a Telegram post. 

A few days before the Australian Open final, Gates admitted in an interview with the country’s Lowy Institute think tank that the Covid shots “are not infection-blocking” and “have very short duration, particularly in the people who matter, which are old people […].” 

Due to the U.S. government extending its travel ban on unvaccinated foreigners, Djokovic will likely miss more important U.S. tournaments this year. 

READ: Novak Djokovic slated to miss more US tournaments as gov’t extends travel ban on unvaxxed foreigners 

Despite missing many important tournaments due to standing by his decision to refuse the Covid jabs, Djokovic said in September last year that he doesn’t have “any regrets.” 

“I mean, I do feel sad that I wasn’t able to play (the U.S. Open), but that was a decision I made, and I knew what the consequences would be,” the tennis star said. “So I accepted them, and that’s that.”  

READ: Tennis star Novak Djokovic says he has no regrets about not taking COVID shot despite US Open ban