Wimbledon 2015: Dawn Fraser apologises after Nick Kyrgios labels her ‘blatant racist’ over tanking comments
Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser has apologised after suggesting Nick Kyrgios “go back to where [his] parents came from” over claims he was tanking during his fourth-round Wimbledon loss.
The Canberra-born Kyrgios, who is of Greek and Malaysian heritage, made no effort to return serve in the third game of the second set of his four-set loss to 21st seed Richard Gasquet on Monday night (AEST).
On Tuesday morning, Fraser told the Nine Network’s Today Show she found Kyrgios’ behaviour “absolutely disgusting”.
“I just am so shocked to think that he went out there to play and he tanked, he did all that tanking, that’s terrible,” she said in the interview.
Fraser also appeared to take aim at German-born Bernard Tomic, who came under fire this week after unleashing a tirade of abuse at Tennis Australia, leading to him being axed from the Davis Cup team for the upcoming quarter-final tie against Kazakhstan.
Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.
“They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours,” she said.
“If they don’t like it, go back to where their parents came from. We don’t need them here in this country to act like that.”
She has since “unreservedly” apologised for any comments “which may have caused offense to my fellow Australians, including Nick and his family”.
“The live-to-air clip was part of a larger un-broadcasted interview, however this does not condone what was said,” she said in a statement.
“Australians have a rich sporting heritage made up of individuals from a variety of different countries of origin.”
She said her intended message was on a “purely sporting level” and could have been delivered more articulately.
“Nick’s representing Australia and I want to see him representing Australian tennis in the best possible light,” she said.
“Representing your country is the highest accolade for any athlete and being selected for Australia is both a privilege and an honour.
“Not only do you represent yourself, your team, your fans and your family but you are representing the heritage of the competition and acting as a role model for young Australians.”
Kyrgios, who has been roundly criticised after each of his four matches at SW19 for varying degrees of misbehaviour, responded to the Today Show comments on Facebook, calling Fraser a “blatant racist”.
“Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant. Blatant racist, Australian legend,” he wrote.
Admitting to feeling the strain of “external” pressures, the 20-year-old Kyrgios could be fined up to $US20,000 under the “best effort” rules at majors, but fended off accusations he stopped trying during an intense post-match media conference.
“Of course I tried,” he said.
“There was a lot of ups and downs. It was a tough, tough time, especially when [Gasquet’s] not missing any balls.
“I’m getting frustrated myself. I feel as if I’m playing not how I should be playing. I’m angry at myself.”
Fraser’s Today Show comments ‘disgusting’: brother
Christos Kyrgios, the brother of the world number 29, said Fraser’s Today Show comments were “disgusting”.
“If she thinks the way he played out there for that one-game duration was unacceptable in her books, then fine, say that,” he said.
“Say ‘I don’t like the way you played that match’, or say ‘it wasn’t good sportsmanship’, fine say that.
“[But] don’t then go and backhand every sort of ethnic in the country.
“I almost felt sorry for my grandparents having to … hear from that from people in the RSL club.”
Mr Kyrgios said he would not go so far as to label Fraser a “racist” but said he found her “comments very racist”.
“For the last few days I have been hearing the way Nick has been acting is un-Australian,” he said.
“Compare it to … [Fraser’s comments], I know how I want my kids to act.”
Kyrgios’s mother Nill, who was born in Malaysia, also took to Twitter to criticise Fraser’s Today Showcomments.
“I have no comments on Dawn Frasers [sic] nasty racist attack…but she is out of line. #unaustralianbehaviour,” she tweeted.