As he took the stage to do his exit interview with Julia Morris and Dr Chris Brown – having quit after just three days on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here – Bernard Tomic seemed like a man who’d lost his bearings.
He discussed his regret at appearing on the show at all. He confessed he’d been feeling depressed, having negative thoughts that consumed him. He discussed being troubled by not playing tennis. He had to focus, he said, to get back in the game.
“I only got back into tennis the last month… I had the last year off and wasn’t really focusing. I think doubting myself before I came here. A couple of days before I was about to fly, I put negative thoughts into my brain and knew it wasn’t the right thing. I think it was my fault for coming and I only realised that after a couple of days here,” he told the hosts.
Dr Brown was sympathetic to the sportsman, admitting - with surprising sensitivity for a show that features celebrities eating offal and being bitten by snakes - that it appeared Tomic is struggling emotionally, and not just on the show, but in life.
Tomic thanked Dr Brown for his words, but whether he registered that there was genuine concern being directed at him wasn't clear. He did however openly speak of struggling with his mental health at the jungle camp.
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But while Tomic says he left the show to concentrate on tennis, even over his saving grace he was conflicted. He curiously confirmed, repeatedly, that he "likes," but doesn't "love," the sport which made him a household name. Even his return to tennis feels like a search for a sense of comfort and peace not easily granted him.
"I like tennis a lot. I like it so much but I don't love it. I missed the whole last year and was disappointed with myself. And the last month and a half training, doing the right thing, playing and wing matches has given me the energy of where I need to be in my career," he told I'm A Celeb's hosts. "It was my fault and have to take it on the chest like a man and get back into training now."
The tennis champ may have walked away from the reality program without what he'd hoped to achieve - a better reputation, perhaps a little love from the public he'd thrown offside.
Instead, he showed us something else - a fragile man who appears genuinely troubled, genuinely unhappy, and is perhaps far more worthy of empathy than scorn.