Australian sporting icon Dawn Fraser insists she’s not racist and has defended her controversial comments about Nick Kyrgios.
Fraser faced a storm of criticism on Tuesday after suggesting Kyrgios and fellow tennis star Bernard Tomic should set a better example or go back to where their parents came from.
The Olympic swimming great told a breakfast television show she was disgusted by Kyrgios’ behaviour at Wimbledon, including accusing him of “tanking” in his fourth-round loss to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Kyrgios was booed on court after he appeared to deliberately fail to return serves during the third game of the second set.
When asked on breakfast television if it was a case of having too much money and fame at such an early age and lacking humility, the 77-year-old agreed and lumped suspended Davis Cup star Tomic in with Kyrgios.
“They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours,” Fraser told the Nine Network.
“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.”
Kyrgios is the son of a Greek-born father and Malaysian-born mother but was born in Canberra.
Tomic is German-born with a Croatian father and Bosnian mother and their family migrated to the Gold Coast when Tomic was three.
The 20-year-old Kyrgios, who denied he tanked, responded via social media with a post linking to Fraser’s tirade on Facebook.
“Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant,” he wrote.
“Blatant racist, Australian legend.”
His mother Nill added her thoughts on Twitter.
“I have no comments on Dawn Frasers nasty racist attack…but she is out of line. #unaustralianbehaviour,” she posted.
Fraser later defended herself, saying she was not a racist person.
“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, according to Fairfax Media.
“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,” she said.
“I can see it being interpreted that way … but it wasn’t intended that way.”
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane joined the wave of criticism against Fraser, telling the National Press Club on Tuesday: “Contrary to what the likes of Dawn Fraser might say, most Australians do not tell migrants and their children to go back to where they came from.”