Czech tennis player Renata Voráčová, placed in the same Melbourne detention centre as Novak Djokovic after both had their Australian visas revoked, said Friday her stay felt like “being in prison”.
Voráčová entered Australia on an exemption from the country’s tight pandemic regulations, just like Djokovic, but both ended up in detention after authorities changed their minds.
“I’m in a room and I can’t go anywhere,” the 38-year-old Voráčová, ranked 81st in doubles, told iDNES.
“My window is shut tight, I can’t open it 5cm. 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 allowed to enter on an exemption after recovering from the disease late last year.
“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 even managed a doubles match at the Melbourne WTA event in the run-up to the Australian Open starting on Jan 17.
On Thursday, local authorities revoked her visa, interrogated her for several hours and sent her into quarantine at the Park Hotel in Melbourne.
“It felt like in an action movie and it wasn’t pleasant at all,” said Voráčová, who has won 11 WTA doubles titles during her career.
Unlike the vaccine-wary world number one Djokovic, who is awaiting a court verdict on his options to clinch a record 21st Grand Slam title, Voracova is planning to go back home.
“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.”