On the eve of the Australian Open, controversial Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has already caused a stir — without even setting foot on the court.
The 21-year-old shared a new ad for Nike Australia on his Twitter account last night, evoking a storm of angry tweets from social media users.
The ad, which features a moving image of Kyrgios surrounded by black and grey clouds and lightning, is captioned: “Dark clouds never got in the way of talent. #JustDoIt”
Nike has been criticised both for endorsing the troubled youngster despite his history of misdemeanours. The ad has also been accused of diminishing the very real toll of mental illness.
“What a tasteless way of saying mental illness is no big thing,” one user wrote.
Another labelled Kyrgios’ an “appalling example for our kids”.
Others simply called him a “flog”, “a tool” and a “disrespectful person”.
The Canberra-born ‘bad boy’ has been sanctioned repeatedly for his on-court antics and was most recently fined $16,500 for verbally abusing a spectator, as well as unsportsmanlike conduct at the Shanghai Masters in October.
The Mamamia Out Loud crew chatted about Kyrgios last year:
That particular outburst came just months after Kyrgios’ sought help from a sports psychologist following a drama-plagued 2015.
So far Nike hasn’t commented on their choice to back the the controversial star, but has previously sponsored other young players criticised for their attitudes such America’s John Mcenroe.
Another former tennis star, Andy Murray, spoke about the need to protect Kyrgios after his Shanghai altercation.
“When I was very young, I struggled with it massively. In those situations he maybe needs to be guided a little bit better and I’m sure he will learn from this. We don’t always talk about it when we’re that age,” Murray told the press.
“Sometimes the mental health of players is not really discussed because we’re supposed to be mentally strong. If you are seen to be talking about feelings or not believing in yourself or struggling to cope with pressure, that’s seen as a negative.”
Mamamia has contacted Nike for comment.