Stefanos Tsitsipas has said comments he made about Nick Kyrgios at last year’s Wimbledon have been “misinterpreted”, after his remarks were featured on Netflix documentary “Break Point” and perceived as racist on social media.
Tsitsipas, 24, was knocked out by Kyrgios in a bad-tempered third-round clash at the grasscourt Grand Slam and described the Australian’s approach to tennis as “uneducated”, saying he brought “that NBA basketball attitude” to the sport.
The Greek world number five said there had been an “unfortunate misunderstanding that has a distorted picture of my intentions” in a lengthy statement posted to his Facebook page on Saturday.
“It has come to my attention that some individuals have misinterpreted my comments regarding Nick Kyrgios … insinuating racism where none exists,” Tsitsipas wrote.
“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.”
Tsitsipas added his remarks were not meant to undermine Kyrgios’ ability or intelligence.
“I 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.
“It was an attempt to highlight the dynamic and captivating nature of his approach to the game, not a criticism of his character or capabilities.
“Moving forward, I commit to being more mindful of my words and the impact they may have.”
The 28-year-old Kyrgios, who reached the Wimbledon final last year, saw off Tsitsipas in four sets in a match that often threatened to spiral out of control.
Kyrgios was warned for swearing and had a running dialogue with the umpire, while Tsitsipas lost his composure and tried to hit his opponent with a smash after coming close to being defaulted for hitting a ball in frustration into the crowd.
The feud continued off-court, with Tsitsipas labelling Kyrgios a “bully” with “an evil side” in a post-match media conference. Kyrgios laughed off Tsitsipas’s remarks and said the Greek had “serious issues”.
This year’s Wimbledon runs from July 3-16.