Controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios has opened up on his growing pains in a ‘white gentleman’s sport’ like tennis and said that coloured players are viewed differently.
In an upcoming TV series on Australian television Reputation Rehab, Kyrgios, born to a Greek father and Malaysian mother, delves into the subject of racism and talks about his love-hate relationship with the sport.
“It’s supposed to be a nice white gentleman’s sport,” the 25-year-old says.
“So seeing someone coloured like myself go out there, be different and be successful, it’s not so easy to see at times.”
His mother, Norlaila, admits that Kyrgios had been a target of racist remarks while growing up.
“At the beginning it was dreadful … I wanted to guard him,” she says. “How do you guard someone from all that negativity? Some of them were racist, some of them were just terrible.”
Recently, French tennis player Gael Monfils had suffered racist abuse from fans after his defeat at the Rome Masters.
He revealed racist messages he had received on his Instagram story, with one of them calling him a ‘stupid black monkey’ and ‘a slave’.
Kyrgios, who was last seen on the tennis court at this year’s Australian Open, is one of the most polarising figures in the sport. He’s known for his outspoken views, fiery temper and has been fined by men’s governing body ATP multiple times for ‘tanking’ matches.
“I’ve definitely had a bit of a relationship with tennis, it’s a love-hate thing,” he says.
“I love what I can get out of the sport. A lot of young kids look up to me now, and I can give back, but at times tennis, it’s a s**t sport. It’s so frustrating.
“You have to be incredibly patient, and losing sucks, and you lose a lot in tennis, but there are times when I love the grind, I love training, I love putting in but there are times where I hate it. I never accept losing, I’m pretty bad at that.”
The Australian star also admits that the win over Rafael Nadal at the 2014 Wimbledon changed life completely for him and it was something he wasn’t prepared for.
“I wasn’t used to having cameras in my face, being in the spotlight,” says Kyrgios, who beat then World No 1 Rafael Nadal at the age of 19 in the fourth round of Wimbledon 2014.
“After Wimbledon when I beat Nadal everything kind of changed. There were people camping outside my house for two weeks when I got back home, following me around when I went to the mall, so I wasn’t really ready for the dramatic changes that I was experiencing.”
Since that breakthrough year, Kyrgios has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam only once — Australian Open 2015.