Right before 2020 rolled in, ushering the new decade with it, results of Australian newspaper Herald Sun’s public poll declared Nick Kyrgios as the "second-most hated athlete of the decade" behind South African blade runner Oscar Pistorius.
It created a ruckus and if there ever were a momentary topic that needed a ruckus to tear it apart, it was this. However, as the wait for the ATP Cup dwindled to unbearable, Kyrgios became part of the whole. Of that of the Australian team set to begin its ATP Cup campaign in Brisbane.
If this alone weren’t enough to side-line the subject of the 24-year-old’s infamy as the second-most hated athlete, Kyrgios’ spontaneity in coming forward to alleviate a blazing humanity crisis diluted the article’s message further.
On 1st January 2020, marking the New Year, Kyrgios tweeted, “C’mon @TennisAustralia surely we can do a pre @AustralianOpen exho to raise funds for those affected by the fires?” The tweets gained traction as he had intended in the first place.
Instead of quietening himself with issuing take-action statements, Kyrgios, then, shared his contribution method, on the 2nd of January. “I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires. I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer,” the world no.
30 declared. Kyrgios’ prompts nudged everyone into the picture. His compatriots and ATP Cup teammates, Alex de Minaur and John Millman shared they would be donating $250 and $100 respectively per ace each hit for the cause.
The ATP Cup, too, tweeted that it would donate $100 for each ace hit across the three venues to the Australian Red Cross’s “bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts”. Tennis Australia into the picture and it announced fundraisers to help the needy both during the ATP Cup and the Australian Open.
Even former US Open champion and former Australian no. 1 Samantha Stosur shared she would be giving $200 for every ace she hit during the “Aussie summer” towards helping everyone, humans and animals alike, who needed rehabilitation in the aftermath of the bushfires.
Except for de Minaur and Millman, who formed a chain of quote-tweets off Kyrgios’ post of donating funds, no one else tagged him on the social media channel. Neither was it expected – either from him or from those observing these developments.
Nonetheless, the irony was inescapable. For someone, who has quite often turned eyes his way with his less-than-pleasant words and deeds in the few years he has been around, this display of maturity is a timely intervention.
This is not the first time Kyrgios has shown how mentally wiser he can be. And, if he can be listed alongside an athlete who has been convicted for life for murder despite not being around the professional sport for the entirety of the decade so mentioned, Kyrgios deserves more than a cursory acknowledgement for when he does right.
Even if it to remind of the contextual premise that good and the not-so-good are inherently intertwined in people. Photo Credit: ATP Cup Website