The real casualty here is Donna Vekic.
When Nick Kyrgios sledged his Swiss opponent yesterday, his own personal life was not the only one damaged.
It was 10 words that did it.
“Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate”, Kyrgios said to his Swiss opponent, Stan Wawrinka.
They were 10 words aimed squarely at the heart and psyche of Wawrinka, and televised live internationally.
Kyrgios essentially announced that fellow Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis and rising Croatian star Donna Vekic, both 19, had slept together.
And in doing so, he didn’t just sledge his opponent. He also involved two other innocent people.
Watch the sledge here:
Whether it’s true or not is pretty much irrelevant now.
For many, Kyrgios’ unsportsmanlike sledge was the final nail in the coffin that carries our hopes of him being a respectable player. It was the last straw in a career that, in the space of a year, has almost imploded due to his repeated bad behaviour.
But, by pulling two unwitting teenage friends into the controversy, in the eyes of some, he is dragging their reputations down with him.
The recently divorced Wawrinka, 30, and Vekic are yet to actually confirm their relationship, but the comment certainly riled Wawrinka – who labelled it something he “wouldn’t say to (his) worst enemy”.
The comment has been widely slammed as misogyny and slut-shaming at its worst.
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottliebFOX) August 13, 2015
Aside from trash-talking Stan the Man, Nick dragged his best pal Thanasi into it and shamed poor Donna Vekic. What a prick. — Lucy Johnstone (@lucysophiaj) August 13, 2015 If I ever have a daughter, I hope no man ever talks about her in the way Nick Kyrgios spoke of Donna Vekic…
— Fatima Kdouh (@FatimaKdouh_) August 13, 2015
— Barry Clarke (@Barry_Clarke93) August 13, 2015
The fact that his girlfriend has slept with someone else appears to be the worst sledge one can throw at a man, but let’s think about Vekic for a minute.
Most people don’t go around widely broadcasting who they have sex with, but thanks to Kyrgios, Vekic’s parents, colleagues, friends, fans and people who’d never heard of her until yesterday all believe she slept with her former Australian open mixed doubles partner and Twitter pal.
No matter what opinions people hold about her choice of sexual partner, the fact is, that information isn’t ours to have.
It’s intensely private. It’s personal. And it should be up to Vekic who she chooses to share it with.
If it is true, it’s something she may not have even known Kyrgios knew about. And without being present, or consulted, or consenting, he just broadcast it to the world.
The same applied to Kokkinakis, though his reputation is less likely to suffer from the pair having “banged” than hers.
Kyrgios has been booed, fined more than $13,000 and apologised on social media.
Vekic has remained silent on the whole affair, though she did retweet the outraged comments of Wawrinka:
It just shows that even women in professional tennis – a game that demands strict compliance with rules at all times – are not immune to slut-shaming, sexist treatment and workplace bullying.
And, when it does happen, it’s broadcast on international television for the world to see.
For more on the Kyrgios, try these articles: