ick Kyrgios has defended Stefanos Tsitsipas after the Greek’s “misinterpreted” comments following the pair’s dramatic third-round clash at Wimbledon last year were perceived by some on social media to be racist.
Tsitsipas said on the Netflix documentary series ‘Break Point’ that Kyrgios brought an “NBA basketball attitude” to tennis and that he approached the sport in an “uneducated” way. Those comments subsequently garnered significant criticism online.
However, the Greek world No5 posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook page on Friday, insisting his comments had been misinterpreted.
“Today, I want to address a matter that has been weighing heavily on my heart; an unfortunate misunderstanding that has a distorted picture of my intentions,” Tsitsipas wrote.
“It has come to my attention that some individuals have misinterpreted my comments regarding Nick Kyrgios, labeling him as uneducated and accusing him of bringing a basketball mentality into tennis, insinuating racism where none exists.”
Tsitsipas added that he “deeply” regretted if he had caused offence, and that he “simply intended to express my perspective on certain aspects of his playing style, drawing comparisons to the passion and intensity often associated with basketball.”
He said: “I want to emphasize that I harbour no prejudice towards anyone based on their background, ethnicity, or interests. I deeply regret if my words were misinterpreted or caused offence, as that was never my intention.”
Kyrgios then responded on Twitter on Saturday, saying: “It was a very heated battle. Sometimes as players we go into these press conferences without digesting the match… We’ve had some crazy battles and I know deep down you like my brand of tennis. We are all good.”
Tsitsipas and Kyrgios, whose father is of Greek origin, are both in the men’s singles draw for Wimbledon this year, with the former the fifth seed and the latter seeded 30th as it stands.