Israel’s largest city has just finished hosting the Tel Aviv Open, the first tennis tournament hosted by Israel in over a decade. It was a wonderful opportunity for Israelis to meet with international tennis stars and for those stars to experience Israeli culture.

Novak Djokovic claimed the title and was joined by other tennis stars from around the world. He won the title by beating Marin Cilic in the final 6-3, 6-4 to add the Israeli trophy to his victories in Rome and Wimbledon this year.

Djokovic spoke positively of Israel, telling of the friendly welcome he received in Israel, with many Israelis showing their support for him as they saw him on the streets of Tel Aviv.

The 35-year-old has been in the spotlight recently for choosing not to have a COVID vaccine, a right to freedom of choice he has defended despite the consequences. He was banned from the US Open and the Australian Open as a result but was more than welcome in Israel.

Coming to Israel, Djokovic had many critics online making noise about his visit to Israel, calling him all sorts of unkind things simply because he was playing tennis in the world’s only Jewish state.

Addressing the criticism, Djokovic said it is “part of what they do.” Adding, “the media is not always so nice when there is an agenda. So I have to just deal with it.”

But he prefers to let his tennis doing the talking.

“I’m a professional athlete, and I am a tennis player. And if I choose to play a tournament, there is a reason why I’m choosing that,” he said.

Djokovic is no stranger to Israel. He played in a tournament in 2005 and visited as a tourist in 2008.

Speaking of Jerusalem, he said “the city has changed” since he last came, “but the energy is the same” and that Israelis are very “passionate.”

Djokovic said it was a “very good decision” to play in Israel.

We have no doubt Novak Djokovic will be more than welcome to return to Israel in the future. The Serbian left a very good impression on Israelis and it seems they left a good impression on him also.

We also hope this tournament will inspire the younger generation of Israelis to try their hand at the sport.

We call upon the UK Government to officially recognise Jerusalem is Israel's capital and move its embassy to Jerusalem.

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