Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser was heavily criticized for her negative comments on tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon. She apologized after being labeled a “blatant racist” by Kyrgios for saying the two Australians should “go back to where their parents came from.”
Kyrgios lost in the fourth-round at Wimbledon on Monday. During the third game of the second set he appeared to be ‘tanking,’ or not making a real effort to play competitively. He also repeatedly argued with umpires throughout the tournament.
When asked about Kyrgios’s behavior in an interview on Australian television, Fraser said, “It’s absolutely disgusting. I am so shocked to think that he went out there to play and he tanked …that’s terrible.”
Fraser also criticized Tomic, who was suspended from the Davis Cup team by Tennis Australia after accusing the organization of not supporting him.
She said of Kyrgios and Tomic, “They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours. 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.”
Kyrgios’s father is from Greece and his mother from Malaysia. Tomic’s parents are Croatian and Bosnian.
The comments were widely denounced on social media. Kyrgios responded by labeling Fraser a “blatant racist,” and his mother denounced Fraser’s words as a “nasty racist attack.”
Fraser, who has won eight Olympic medals, four of them gold, apologized and claimed she was misunderstood. “If you take (my comments) that way then I’m sorry that you take it that way, but I’m not racist at all,” she said.
“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.”