Legendary Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser has apologized for the inflammatory remarks she made about Nick Kyrgios, the Australian tennis player who is being accused of throwing his fourth-round match at Wimbledon against Richard Gasquet.
On Tuesday, the morning after Kyrgios’ controversial defeat, Fraser appeared on Australia’s Today Show to decry his behavior on the court as “absolutely disgusting,” and to advise him and fellow Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic to “go back to where their parents came from.”
“We don’t need them here in this country to act like that,” she said.
Kyrgios was born in Canberra but is of Malaysian and Greek heritage; Tomic was born in Germany but moved to Australia in 1996, when he was 3 years old.
After Fraser’s remarks, Kyrgios posted a message to Facebook calling her a bigot and denouncing what he saw as a double standard.
“Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant. Blatant racist, Australian legend,” he wrote.
Fraser apologized shortly thereafter in a public statement, though she did not redact her chief complaint — that Kyrgios, who currently faces a possible $20,000 in fines for his behavior at Wimbledon, acted unbecomingly.
“Australians have a rich sporting heritage made up of individuals from a variety of different countries of origin,” she said. “Nick’s representing Australia, and I want to see him representing Australian tennis in the best possible light … 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.”
Fraser, who is 77, earned eight Olympic swimming medals for Australia between 1956 and 1964. She attracted some national controversy at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when authorities accused her of swimming across the moat surrounding Emperor Hirohito’s palace to steal an Olympic flag.
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