‘The Novak Djokovic nonsense has spoiled the start of the Australian Open’

Val Savage says she could not believe her eyes when she saw Novak Djokovic’s mum Dijana holding a press conference to defend him, claiming he was subjected to ‘torture’

Novak Djokovic practices at Melbourne Park

Anyone who knows me knows I am tennis mad. I’ve been looking forward to the start of the Australian Open on Monday but Novak Djokovic has spoiled the run-up to it with all his nonsense.

So much was said, denied, and said again that my head whipped from one side to the other faster than it did watching McEnroe and Borg.

Did Novak think the rules didn’t apply to him just because he’s the defending champion and could just turn up in Melbourne, where people are dying of Covid?

Or did he think he’s bigger than the Australian Open?

In all the messy, angry to-ing and fro-ing I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Novak’s mum Dijana holding a press conference to defend him.

Imagine if I’d done that when our Robert was a player and got in to one of his scrapes? It would never have happened, not just because Rob was never as high profile or well liked as Novak (sorry Rob!) – but because I’d have kept my advice to him private.

If Robert had not had his jab and felt he should enter a country which has been strict on covid restrictions, I’d have called him up and said: “You doughnut”.

Not that Robert would have taken a blind bit of notice.

Novak Djokovic has a reported net worth of $220 million


AFP via Getty Images)

Wonderful cards from good friends

One of my favourite Christmas gifts is a special box which says “Val’s box of happiness”. In it are special keepsakes so if ever I feel a bit down, I can open it to find guaranteed cheerer uppers.

Your letters are in there, and to everyone who sent me Christmas cards I can’t thank you enough.

The ones containing Tena Ladies made me laugh, the ones with chocolate lasted only a few minutes and in all of them the sentiments offered are really beautiful.

But a card from one lady in particular, called Anne, stands out.

She and her daughter Dee handmade a card with five gold rings for health, family, friends, hope and the NHS. It is so lovely it made me cry.

I feel as if we’re all friends.

Wouldn’t it be great if, in a world where there was no covid or old age mobility problems, we could all have a good old get-together? I like to imagine we would chat, laugh, cry and sing all day. And we’d enjoy double helpings of jam roly poly all round.

The little things now feel special

At the start of every year I used to make a mental list of plans, hopes and goals.

This year I didn’t because I think 2022 is going to be exactly like last year.

It seems we will have to get used to living with Covid and all the different strains it throws at us. We’ll be sensible, we will not panic, and the vast majority of us will not break any rules.

It’s up to us to make the most of what we’ve got and what we can do. We can always turn Motown records up loud and dance as wildly as our creaking bodies allow.

We can watch any of our favourite feel-good TV shows, like Heartbeat, because at all times of day they can be found somewhere within our fancy smart TVs (actually, learning to use mine properly is one of my goals). And we have learned to appreciate our families more than ever before.

If I manage to make it out for a cuppa at Costa with my friends at any point this year, I’ll relish being away from my own four walls, having a chat, and people watching.

Little things like that didn’t feel so special before Covid.

We’ve learned to love our homes, gardens and country more than ever.

And we’ve accepted what I’ve been telling young women for ages: big pants are always the comfiest. (Please don’t write in to tell me to try a thong. I would look like a sumo wrestler.)

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