Dawn Fraser apologises for comments about Nick Kyrgios
AUSTRALIAN Olympic great Dawn Fraser has apologised "unreservedly" after making a racially motivated comment live on TV regarding Nick Krygios and Bernard Tomic's Wimbledon appearances, just hours after standing by her comments.
The eight-time Olympic medallist, who won four gold medals during her professional swimming career, was not impressed by Kyrgios' antics and behaviour during his Wimbledon run to the fourth round.
The 20-year-old's defeat to Richard Gasquet on Monday spelled the end to what had been a controversial yet gripping eight days at SW19 that saw the Australian prospect range through every emotion possible in both victory and defeat.
Many criticised his behaviour during yesterday's match, when he was accused of "tanking" during a game in the second set that saw him stop returning the ball on Gasquet's serve and effectively concede the game - something that could see him hit with a heavy fine.
But Fraser's comments on Australian TV's Channel Nine were immediately criticised by Kyrgios, who labelled her a "blatant racist" after she claimed Kyrgios and Tomic should "go back where their parents came from".
Having stood by her comments, Fraser responded to the worldwide backlash by issuing an apologetic statement and appeared to try and blame Channel Nine for not screening the entire interview.
"The live-to-air clip was part of a larger un-broadcasted interview, however this does not condone what was said," Fraser said in a statement.
"Australians have a rich sporting heritage made up of individuals from a variety of different countries of origin."
Fraser added: "Nick's representing Australia and I want to see him representing Australian tennis in the best possible light.
"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 had taken to his Facebook account to condemn Fraser with a sarcastic post about how the former swimmer is still regarded an a national treasure despite her racial outburst.
"Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant. Blatant racist, Australian legend," he wrote.
In her original outburst, Fraser said: "They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this country, a great country of ours.
"If they don't like it, go back to where their fathers or their parents came from. We don't need them here in this country if they act like that."
The comments were aimed at German-born Tomic as well as Kyrgios after he blasted Tennis Australia following his Wimbledon exit, which led to him being dropped from the Australia squad that will take on Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup quarter-finals.
Responding to the criticism she received, Fraser told Fairfax Media: "I'm not a racist person, if you take it that way then I'm sorry that you take it that way, but I'm not racist at all.
"I said, 'If they don't want to be Australians then maybe they should go back to the country where their parents come from'. That's not being racist.
"I can see it being interpreted that way ... but it wasn't intended that way. I said they were not good Australians by behaving the way they are on court. Do you think they are?"
But she appears to have had a change of heart following widespread condemnation, as her most recent apology suggests.