Tennis star Nick Kyrgios has opened about the mental health issues that he has battled throughout his career, saying he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and also self-harm.
The enigmatic Australian, whose on-court outbursts often make him a divisive figure among tennis fans, has always been candid about his complicated relationship with the sport.
Kyrgios admitted he “hated” his life but says the global lockdown in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic helped him begin to overcome some of those battles after he had “spiraled out of control.”
“It was very serious, to the point of self-harm and it’s not okay,” the 27-year-old told Wide World of Sports. “I guess I pushed everyone that cared about me away and I wasn’t communicating, and I just shut down real life and I was trying to handle and tackle my problems head-on.
“I was abusing alcohol a lot, drugs and that spiraled out of control. Now, I barely drink, I literally have a glass of wine at dinner. That was the initial kind of thing I had to clean up a little bit and then build my relationship back with my family and get into healthier habits like the basics; like diet, getting good sleep, trying to train a little bit more and that was it.
“I think Covid helped me a lot with that.”
During his darkest moments, Kyrgios says he felt like he was “letting people down all the time.”
He says he believed at times that people he met “really didn’t care who I was as a human being, rather just a tennis player … the crazy tennis player.”
He added: “I felt worthless to be honest, I didn’t feel comfortable, I hated my life at one stage.
“I was cutting, burning, just pretty f**ked up sh*t. It was so dark that I kind of liked it as well, like asking people to do it and stuff. What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger (and stronger). I’m still a bit cooked.”
Kyrgios says that he is deeply affected by the abuse he has received on social media over the years.
The Australian Open’s men’s doubles winner, who was born to a Greek father and a Malay mother, has revealed on a number of occasions how often he has to face racist abuse on social media.
“I deal with it all the time,” he explains. “People just think raising the finger, abusing someone or making racist comments is acceptable in this day and age, and I just don’t think that’s acceptable at all. Now, you just have to use it as motivation, but that’s easier said than done.
“People talk sh*t about you and do bad things. They’re achieving nothing to what you’re achieving. You have to just try and brush it off and use it as motivation and cling onto the people around you that send you positive energy all the time.”