Eight years after his Wimbledon debut, Nick Kyrgios fell to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon finals Sunday. Kyrgios stirred controversy throughout the tournament with his on-court antics and his disregard for the notoriously strict Wimbledon dress code (wearing a red cap and Jordans after matches).

Some say he is “bad for tennis.” Others love the drama. In an interview after the final match, a journalist asked Kyrgios why he chose to defy the all-white dress standard. “Because I do what I want. I just like wearing my Jordans,” he replied.

Though his name has ruled headlines this past month, his status as a polarizing figure began much earlier in his career.

In 2014 at his first Wimbledon, Kyrgios “blew the world No. 1, Rafael Nadal, off Centre Court in four extraordinary sets.” His powerful serves marked at speeds up to 133 mph won him 37 aces by the end of the match.

This moment drew significant media attention, and the Australian teenager with a fiery personality quickly gained the reputation as one of tennis’ most exciting characters to watch.

But the pressure of the press and a highly competitive sport was difficult to bear for Kyrgios as a teenager.

Christos Kyrgios, Nick’s brother, wrote in a letter to the press that “it was so hard for him to get away from an image or caricature that was created for him from the media from a young age and then echoed on a daily basis to him through all these social media avenues. He couldn’t get away from it.”

Andy Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner, had been coaching the young talent when he “noticed evidence of self-harm on Kyrgios’ body and expressed his concern to the Canberran’s former manager, John Morris,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Kyrgios’ candid discussion of his struggles with mental health and racism has endeared him to tennis fans, and in a sport where the mental game is as important as the physical, he has won the respect of his competitors.

His impact on the future of the sport can be seen physically. When he first picked it up, his trademark Yonex racket was far behind other major brands in sales, and “much weaker in sales to males than females.” Now, kids of both genders can be commonly seen using the brand.

Many stories have surfaced, illustrating the tennis star’s generosity and loyalty to his friends, but these have been eclipsed by what is seen on camera.

Though he is influencing the next generation of players, his on-court conduct has drawn the ire of some fans. It is estimated that Kyrgios has been fined $544,000 over the course of his career.

In Wimbledon alone, he was fined $10,000 for spitting in the direction of a heckling fan, and $4,000 for an “audible obscenity.” In the finals, he could be heard using profanity with 8-year-old Prince George in attendance, and venting towards the box where his girlfriend and father were watching as pressure mounted. He was harshly criticized for this and his treatment of the umpires.

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In addition, Kyrgios has been summoned to appear before the ACT Magistrates Court on Aug. 2, in relation to an allegation of an assault taking place in December 2021, where Kyrgios allegedly grabbed his former partner.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, “it may be misleading to the public to describe the summons in any other manner than a formal direction to appear to face allegations.”

Kyrgios is another example of how sports fans need villains. Whether it is justified or not, Kyrgios has faced this powerful narrative his whole career. He does things differently. “He plays without a coach, without a full commitment to the tour and without much restraint.”

After the drama of Wimbledon, he said he is eyeing a vacation from the sport to spend time with his family.

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