Novak Djokovic’s wife Jelena has hit out at New York Times tennis reporter Ben Rothenburg who questioned the player for his continued anti-vaccination stance, which will see him miss the US Open later this year.

“I’m not vaccinated and I’m not planning to get vaccinated,” the 35-year-old Wimbledon champion said.

Rothenberg tweeted: “Unless there is a swift change in US immigration law, #Wimbledon will be Djokovic’s last Grand Slam event of the year. US requires vaccination for foreigners to enter, and Djokovic has firmly said he has ruled out getting vaccinated, entrenching himself as an anti-vax posterboy.

Jelena Djokovic hit back: “Excuse me. Just making sure that it is noted that YOU tagged him as antivax poster boy for whatever reason you have. He simply responded what HIS body choice is.”

Novak Djokovic celebrates with coach Goran Ivanisevic after he wins Mens Singles Final. Photo: Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

The online spat continued as Rothenburg explained that Djokovic’s ongoing stance against vaccines would limit his ability to play tournaments around d the world.

“Unwittingly or not, it has made him into a huge icon of the anti-vax movement. I saw this very clearly during Australia,” Rothenburg tweeted.

Jelena then accused Rothenburg of “creating a very judgmental narrative that fits your agenda” to which Rothenburg responded: ” … I believe every citizen, especially public figures, had a duty to act responsibly with public health actions and messaging during the pandemic, and as someone who has covered Novak as the influential champion he is, he repeatedly disappointed me deeply.”

A that point the debate ratcheted up another notch as Jelena accused Rothenburg of being a “poster boy for hatred and bullying”.

The spat got a lot of attention online as another tennis reporter, David Kane, added: “calling people bullies for stating reality: he represents a growing number of people who proudly reject basic science in the face of a continuing public health concern.”

“It’s the job of a journalist to hold public figures to account for the things they do and say. If you consider that bullying, don’t be a public figure.”

Djokovic’s opposition to the Covid-19 vaccination is well documented and in 2020 Jelena also attracted scrutiny for appearing to link the virus to 5G conspiracy.

She even shared a video linking the virus to the bizarre theory, one which Instagram later labelled as false information.