Aryna Sabalenka reveals she changed mind about COVID vaccine to avoid quarantine

Aryna Sabalenka

World number two Aryna Sabalenka says she is now vaccinated after COVID ruled her out of this year’s Indian Wells tournament in California.

The Belarusian had previously expressed her hesitancy over getting a vaccine –– stressing that she didn’t trust it.

“So far I don’t really trust it,” she said back in March. “It’s tough to say but I don’t really want it yet and I don’t want my family to take it. If I will have to do it, then, of course, I have to do it because our life is a travel life.”

But speaking ahead of the WTA Finals this week, the 23-year-old revealed how bad her symptoms were when she caught the virus and how this led her to get jabbed.

“Well, for four days I was really sick,” she stressed. “I couldn’t move. After four days, it was all about the quarantine. I think maybe on day six I could already go out and maybe do some jogging or start to do some preparation, but yeah, I couldn’t go out.

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“I stayed in the room for 10 days. I was doing some workouts there, but it wasn’t enough. It’s not so much space, you cannot move. You just stay in one place and do floor exercises. Honestly, it’s not really helping that much.

“But, yeah, I was sick for four days at least. I didn’t have taste, I didn’t have smell. [It] wasn’t really [an] amazing time.”

Sabalenka went on to say that she feels fine now after she took the vaccine in Miami.

“Yeah, I think I’m clear right now because in Miami I did the vaccine, Johnson and Johnson. I think I’m safe from… I don’t know. Hopefully, I’m safe because I don’t want to quarantine anymore. It’s not a lot of fun.”

The good news for Sabalenka is that she is now guaranteed to be allowed to play at the Australian Open next year after Melbourne introduced a vaccine mandate for all travellers who are not citizens.

This has caused controversy among the tennis community, with a number of high profile players, including Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev refusing to confirm whether they were vaccinated or not.

Djokovic has previously said his vaccination status was a “private matter” but has previously been vocal in his opposition for mandatory vaccines –– arguing it would be against freedom of choice.

Tennis Australia is reportedly trying to secure a deal for unvaccinated players to compete, subject to a two-week quarantine, but it remains to be seen whether these exemptions will be granted.

For Sabalenka, her focus is now on the WTA Finals, where she is the highest-ranked player in the draw. The Belarusian faces Spain’s Paula Badosa in her first group-stage match on Friday.

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