‘I Felt Like a Criminal’: Renata Voracova on Being Kicked Out of Australia
By The Guardian
The Czech doubles player Renata Voracova, who was deported from Australia after her visa was cancelled, has spoken of how she “felt like a criminal” and was made to undress by the Australia Border Force during questioning.
Voracova had initially been allowed to enter Australia on a medical exemption granted after she had an adverse reaction to a Covid infection and even played in a tournament in Melbourne.
However, in the fallout from the cancellation of Novak Djokovic’s visa on the basis of a similar exemption, Voracova was ordered to leave the country and was deported on Saturday.
Voracova, who has said she hopes Tennis Australia does the right thing so she is not forced to sue for compensation, told BBC News Russian: “I felt a little bit like a criminal, but there was no reason why I should feel like that. I sent all the documents. They were approved. If I knew there would be even a 1% chance of something not being right, I wouldn’t go.”
The 38-year-old, who has won 11 WTA doubles titles and reached the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 2017, still intends to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the future and said that she had suffered medical complications after contracting the virus that prevented her getting the jab before the Australian Open.
She told the Russian publication Denik of being made to undress during her detention and interrogation by immigration officials before leaving Australia.
“I was worried. I didn’t feel safe until I was back home, nothing was certain,” she said. “It was as if I were watching a film – a long interrogation with instructions such as ‘undress, get dressed’. Yuck, I don’t even want to think about it, let alone live it again.”
While Voracova said that she was not aware that she was able to appeal against the cancellation of her visa, Djokovic successfully overturned the decision against him in court and now waits to see if the Australia immigration minister, Alex Hawke, will exercise his reserved powers to cancel the visa again, and deport him before the Australian Open begins on Monday.
In a statement on Wednesday, Voracova gained support from the Women’s Tennis Association which said that she had done nothing wrong.
“The complications experienced over the past few days … are unfortunate,” it said. “Renata Voracova followed these rules and procedures, was cleared for entry upon her arrival, competed in an event and then suddenly had her visa cancelled when she had done nothing wrong.
“We will continue to work with all authorities on addressing this unfortunate situation in an appropriate manner.”
The WTA said, despite its concerns over Voracova’s case, it believed “all players should be vaccinated” and it was “in full support of the immigration policies that have been put in place” in Australia for the early part of the 2022 season.