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Nick Kyrgios said something ridiculous this week. He sledged fellow tennis player Stan Wawrinka at the Montreal Masters saying that Aussie tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis: “Banged your girlfriend, sorry to tell you that mate.”
Kyrgios was referring to the Croatian player Donna Vekic, who is reportedly dating Wawrinka (who separated from his wife Ilham Vuilloud earlier this year).
Was the comment offensive? Yeah. Unbelievably stupid? You bet. Nasty about Vekic, Kokkinakis and Wawrinka? Definitely.
Kyrgios himself doesn’t really know the reason behind why he said what he did. When questioned about why he delivered the remark that scored him a $10,000 fine, he replied:
“You know, I thought ah, you know, he was getting a bit lippy at me, so I don’t know, it’s just in the moment sort of stuff. But yeah, I don’t really know. I just said it,” he said.
Now, I’m not defending what Nick Kyrgios said. At all. It was crude and it was totally out of line.
But has anyone stopped to wonder how Kyrgios, 20, is handling his newfound fame and attention?
Rather than immediately join the throngs of haters expressing their disdain for him, has anyone checked to see whether this young man is OK? (Post continues after gallery.)
It’s not the first time he’s shown signs of cracking. Of not being able to cope.
In January this year, Kyrgios spoke to Fairfax Media about trying to live up to Australia’s “expectations” of him.
“I read comments every day about this guy needing to grow up. But it doesn’t really faze me anymore. Once upon a time it did. Obviously I wanted to please everyone, but that’s not possible. I just go out there now and do what I do,” he explained.
“I like entertaining on the court, sure, but I’m not this ruthless, angry guy off the court. I think I’m a good guy, I’m pretty sure I am,” he explained.
He’s “pretty sure” he’s a good guy, but he’s not convinced. He’s young. He’s discovering who he is; what he’s all about.
He’s admitted he reads “all” the angry social media posts and media commentary about himself, and that it’s “tough”.
With the amount of hatred I’ve noticed directed at him over the last 24-hours, I have to agree with him, that would be bloody tough.
Kyrgios recently posted an apology on his official Facebook page:
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the comments I made during the match last night vs Stan Wawrinka. My comments were made in the heat of the moment and were unacceptable on many levels. In addition to the private apology I’ve made, I would like to make a public apology as well. I take full responsibility for my actions and regret what happened."
It's since attracted almost 4,000 comments. Many are threatening and a great number are too explicit to be shared here.
While we’re all quick to dismiss Kyrgios as an “arrogant” brat, it seems we’re forgetting how Lleyton Hewitt started out.
It wasn’t so long ago that Lleyton was where Kyrgios is. He wore the “bad boy of tennis” crown.
He was aggressive. Hot-headed. He’d yell at ball boys, linesmen, umpires.
He had Australia offside; many thought he was a disrespectful young whippersnapper.
Now? He’s one of Australia’s most respected sportsmen, and he’s a “mentor” to Kyrgios. He’s grown up. He has discovered ways to handle his fame, his temper and everything else that comes with it.
"[Lleyton]’s more of a mentor. Lleyton is very kind to take time away from his family and his career to help me… don't know how long it will last but it is a great help,” Kyrgios said this week.
Sure, they’re two very different people - but there are similarities between them.
Andy Murray has also come out in sympathy of the way Kyrgios was booed at Wimbledon.
“I like Nick. I've spoken to him away from the court. He's quite different to how he is on it. I don't think people always appreciate how difficult it is to grow up under the spotlight, how difficult it is to have loads of people expecting you to be perfect from a young age,” Murray explained.
“It's not easy. He'll find his way, for sure. But he'll hopefully have good people around him that can help him, people that have experienced being on the tour.
Kyrgios is going to need to come to terms with growing up on the world stage and having his every immature dummy-spit broadcast for all to see. In the meantime, let’s show a little more sensitivity for our young sportsmen and women.