Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic's visa dispute has produced no shortage of eyebrow-raising quotes

Melbourne (AFP) - The Australian government won its battle to deport tennis superstar Novak Djokovic on Sunday, ending his dreams of winning a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st Grand Slam.

Here are some key quotes from the saga:

- Family first -

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic's father Srdjan Djokovic (R) expresses his displeasure with his son's Australian immigration woes at a rally in Belgrade

“Jesus was crucified and endured many things but is still alive among us. Novak is also crucified… the best sportsman and man in the world. He will endure.” –- Djokovic’s father Srdjan condemning his son’s detention on January 6

“They detained him and even don’t give him breakfast, he has only lunch and dinner. He does not have a normal window, he stares at a wall.” –- Djokovic’s mother Dijana describing her son’s ordeal at a January 9 rally in Belgrade

- A sympathetic judge -

“What more could this man have done?” –- Federal Judge Anthony Kelly foreshadows his eventual decision to release Djokovic at a Monday hearing on the tennis star’s visa situation

- PM weighs in -

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted tennis star Novak Djokovic would receive no special treatment

“Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison backs the decision of his immigration minister to cancel Djokovic’s visa

- ‘I felt obliged’ -

“I felt obliged to go ahead and conduct the L’Equipe interview as I didn’t want to let the journalist down… On reflection, this was an error of judgement.” –- Djokovic explaining his decision to be interviewed in person after testing positive for Covid-19 in an Instagram post on Wednesday

“The instructions were clear – no questions about vaccination.” – French sports journalist Franck Ramella explaining his side of the interview the same day

- Fear of unrest -

“I consider that Mr Djokovic’s ongoing presence in Australia may lead to an increase in anti-vaccination sentiment generated in the Australian community, potentially leading to an increase in civil unrest.” – Australian immigration minister Alex Hawke justifying his use of broad executive powers to revoke Djokovic’s visa

- Not for everyone -

German tennis legend Boris Becker came to the defence of his former protege Novak Djokovic

“He just has a different view on life. He has a different view how he eats, how he drinks, how he sleeps. That’s where you can’t criticise him. Maybe that’s the reason he’s so successful, but he’s not for everybody – I get it.” – Djokovic’s former coach and six-time Grand Slam title winner Boris Becker to the BBC on January 6

- Witch hunt? -

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called Novak Djokovic's visa ordeal a 'witch hunt'

“What is not fair play is the political witch hunt (being conducted against Novak), by everybody including the Australian prime minister pretending that the rules apply to all.” – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to media on January 6

“You know, a lot of people don’t like him, and they have their right to not like him. But what’s he really done? They reckon he’s arrogant because what, because he wins?” – Djokovic fan Sash Aleksic defending the nine-time Australian Open champion at a protest outside the detention centre on January 6

- ‘Rules are rules’ -

“Rules are rules.” –- Prime Minister Morrison addressing the Djokovic visa situation at a January 6 press conference

“For sure he has been playing by his own rules.” –- Greek tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday

- About that box -

“My agent sincerely apologises for the administrative mistake in ticking the incorrect box.” –- Djokovic explaining in a Wednesday statement why details of his pre-tournament travel history were missing

- Anti-vax icon? -

“He has now become an icon for the anti-vaccination groups. Rightly or wrongly he is perceived to endorse an anti-vaccination view and his presence here is seen to contribute to that.” – government lawyer Stephen Lloyd arguing the case for deportation

- There’s the rub -

“I don’t care how good a tennis player he is. If he’s refusing to get vaccinated, he shouldn’t be allowed in.” – former Australian Medical Association vice-president Stephen Parnis on January 8

“I am not vaccinated.” – Djokovic to immigration officials upon entering Australia on January 6

- Admitting defeat -

“I am extremely disappointed with the court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the minister’s decision to cancel my visa… I respect the court’s ruling.” – Djokovic reacts on Sunday to losing his last-gasp bid to avoid deportation