A mom has denied snatching Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open shirt from a teenager, and declared the sweaty souvenir is hers for the keeping.
Yael Rothschild said she was hurt, and her three daughters very upset, by any suggestion the apparel she took home as a souvenir had been grabbed from schoolgirl Melissa Cook, or that it had even been intended for the 14-year-old.
Cook, a diehard Djokovic fan, had pleaded for the return of the shirt — claiming the world No. 1 tossed it to her after his epic Australian Open victory, only for Rothschild to swoop across and pinch it in midair. The moment was captured on video and went viral.
"I started crying because I couldn’t believe that something I truly believe he meant for me was taken by someone else," a tearful Cook told the Herald Sun.
Rothschild denied she snatched the shirt, and insisted, "I’m keeping it."
"When the shirt was thrown, there would have been 20 excited people, all with their hands out," she said.
"After [it had been] thrown, there would have been 19 disappointed people.
"Such is life. I am not sure how you can snatch it out of the hands [of] someone sitting three seats away from you, with a barrier between the seating," she added.
Rothschild said she thought Cook had caught other items of clothing tossed by the champion into the crowd after Sunday night’s epic final, in which Serbian Djokovic beat Spain’s world No. 2 Rafael Nadal in five sets to claim his third Australian Open crown.
"She was seen holding his sweat band, his towel and his shoe — not a bad night’s winnings," Rothschild said.
Cook denied the claim, saying she had taken along items that had been caught by relatives during the last year’s Open. She added, "And the towel she saw me with wasn’t even Djokovic’s — it was given to me by an official."