Wimbledon: Dawn Fraser apologises for ‘racist’ comments

Australian Nick Kyrgios calls Fraser a ‘blatant racist’ after comments

Dawn Fraser, who won eight Olympic swimming medals, including four gold, has apologised "unreservedly" after suggesting Australian tennis players Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic "go back to where their parents came from".

Kyrgios, who has a Greek father and Malaysian mother, appeared to stop trying during his defeat by Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old was also given a code violation for bad language.

Tomic (22), who was born in Germany to Croatian and Bosnian parents, was dropped from Australia's Davis Cup team after firing a volley of abuse at the game's hierarchy. He accused Tennis Australia of abandoning him after he had hip surgery last year.

Fraser (77) was discussing the tennis players in an interview on Channel Nine’s Today Show on Tuesday morning.


“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 fathers, their parents came from. We don’t need them here in this country to act like that.”

Kyrgios responded on Facebook, calling Fraser a "blatant racist".

Referring to some of his own recent behaviour, Kyrgios wrote: “Throwing a racket, brat. Debating the rules, disrespectful. Frustrated when competing, spoilt. Showing emotion, arrogant. Blatant racist, Australian legend.”

Kyrgios's brother, Christos Kyrgios, said Fraser's 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,” he said.

“Say ‘I don’t like the way you played that match’, or say ‘it wasn’t good sportsmanship’, fine say that. (But) don’t then go and backhand every sort of ethnic in the country.”

Kyrgios's mother Nill, who was born in Malaysia, used Twitter to criticise Fraser's remarks.

“I have no comments on Dawn Fraser’s nasty racist attack ... but she is out of line. #unaustralianbehaviour,” she tweeted.

Australia's race discrimination commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane responded to Fraser's comments by saying 85 per cent of Australians believe multiculturalism is good for the country.

“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,” he said.

Fraser has “unreservedly” apologised for the comments “which may have caused offense to my fellow Australians, including Nick and his family”.

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins

Pádraig Collins a contributor to The Irish Times based in Sydney