Swimming legend and Australian of the Year Dawn Fraser caused a stir this week, after she proposed on national television that tennis stars Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic should “go back to where [his] parents came from” for acting ‘unAustralian’.
The controversial comments were made on the Nine Network’s Today Show following accusations that Kyrgios, whose father is Greek and mother Malaysian, tanked in the third game of the second set during his encounter against Frenchman Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon.
Widely considered a racist attack, the Greek Community of Melbourne released a statement expressing its “disappointment and dismay at the overtly racist language and sentiment.”
“We feel that there is little place in a contemporary, multicultural and cosmopolitan Australia for the sort of public statements that were made by Ms Fraser,” said Greek Centre Director Jorge Menidis.
“Suggesting the removal of people from this country who somehow don’t seem to fit in with Ms Fraser’s notion of what it is to be Australian is not only perplexing but quite hurtful to the many migrants and their descendants who have made multicultural Australia, the great nation it is today.”
Fraser condemned the 20-year-old’s performance as “absolutely disgusting” and that the players should be “setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours.”
After which came the punch line: “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 and his family expressed great offence to the comments, the player taking to Facebook to express his thoughts on the matter, referring to Fraser as a “blatant racist”.
In a heated media conference following the match, the 29th seed expressed his shock at the suggestion of tanking.
“Of course I tried. There was a lot of ups and downs. It was a tough, tough time, especially when [Gasquet’s] not missing any balls.
“I’m getting frustrated myself. I feel as if I’m playing not how I should be playing. I’m angry at myself,” he said.
On Twitter, the player’s mother Nill called Fraser’s comments a “nasty racist attack”, while his brother Christos said though he wouldn’t label Fraser a racist, the comments were “disgusting”.
“If she thinks the way he played out there for that one-game duration was unacceptable in her books, then fine, say that. Say ‘I don’t like the way you played that match’, or say ‘it wasn’t good sportsmanship’.
“[But] don’t then go and backhand every sort of ethnic in the country,” he said.
It didn’t take long for the former swimmer to release a statement apologising to the tennis star, his family and fellow Australians for her comments, which she claims were meant on a “purely sporting level”.
“Nick’s representing Australia and I want to see him representing Australian tennis in the best possible light,” she explained.
“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’ brother however thinks the apology is too little, too late.
“Those comments were pretty black and white.
“The last few days I have been hearing the way Nick has been acting is unAustralian. Compare it to … [Fraser’s comments], I know how I want my kids to act,” he said.
Hours after Fraser realised the widespread furore her comments had created, she said she apologised “unreservedly” for the offence caused.
Source: ABC, 9News.com.au