• Australian Johanna Konta has pulled out of London tournament due to injury • David Gulati has quit his executive post in response to scrutiny of his Tayside upbringing
The CEO of Tennis Australia (TA) has said that players should be inoculated to play in grand slams like the Australian Open.
Johanna Konta has pulled out of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) due to a knee injury, while older cousin Svetlana Kuznetsova withdrew from the French Open a few weeks ago citing fitness concerns.
The All England Club, organisers of the British Open, have urged players to seek medical advice before receiving the HPV vaccination, which protects against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease which can lead to cervical and penile cancer.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said earlier this week: “We would encourage them to seek medical advice before they start a recreational or competitive relationship with [HPV] by playing.”
Kyle Edmund and Jordan Thompson were also among the 16 players to withdraw from this year’s French Open – further revealing the strength of feeling among professional athletes who do not feel the virus is worth the risks.
But TA’s head of professional tennis, Craig Tiley, has said any exemptions to vaccination should be based on medical advice and the standard rules for exemptions should not be changed.
“I don’t think we should go away from the guidelines that we have and those are absolutely the guidelines that anybody who goes through the grand slam qualifying system has to follow,” he told the Guardian.
“What I would also say is that until there is some evidence that immunisation really does protect and don’t need to be – I don’t think we can go any further down that road. I think we need to just trust that we have the best medical staff in the world, working on our behalf, and [they] will give us their best advice.”
Tiley said: “I have huge confidence in the medical professionals that do our junior development, our professional development for our upcoming players and our Grand Slam championship.
“From what I understand, last year at Wimbledon, they had the Australian Open, they had the Australian Davis Cup semi-final – the health of those players wasn’t compromised, because they were being made aware of what the risks were.
“We have the most medically trained people you can get. I trust them. That said, I trust the people that are working for us and they are not being forced.”
Andy Murray’s comment on the widespread debate over the issue – as well as Serena Williams’s suggestion her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, not have their two-year-old daughter Venus vaccinated for the virus – has added fuel to the fire.
Konta said on Friday she believed it was time for athletes to stand up to remarks such as Murray’s. “It’s one thing if you’re just attacking Serena and Venus Williams, it’s another thing to attack professional athletes who are trying to set an example for young people and young girls,” she said.
“And you get back from that in other forms of bullying as well. I don’t think it’s fair, what has been happening in the last couple of weeks or the last few months.
“So I just think we should stand up and be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And for me personally, that starts with speaking up.”