Tennis star Nick Kyrgios has opened up about the mental health issues he has faced throughout his career, saying he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction as well as self-harm.
The enigmatic Australian, whose outbursts on the pitch 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 start to work through some of those battles after he was ‘out of control’.
“It was very serious, to the point of self-harm and that’s not right,” the 27-year-old told Wide World of Sports. “I guess I pushed away everyone who cared about me and wasn’t communicating, and I just shut down real life and tried to deal with and solve my issues head-on.
“I was abusing a lot of alcohol, drugs and it got out of control. Now I barely drink, I literally drink a glass of wine at dinner. It was the initial kind of stuff that I had to clean up a bit, then rebuild my relationship with my family and adopt healthier habits like the basics; like dieting, sleeping well, trying to work out a bit more and that’s it.
“I think Covid helped me a lot with that.”
During his darkest moments, Kyrgios says he felt like he “let people down all the time”.
He says he sometimes believed the people he met “really didn’t care who I was as a human being, more like 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 point.
“I was cutting, burning, just enough fucked up shit. It was so dark that I liked it too, like asking people to do it and all that. What doesn’t kill you makes you a stranger (and stronger). I’m still a little cooked.
Kyrgios says he is deeply affected by the abuse he has suffered on social media over the years.
The Australian Open men’s doubles winner, born to a Greek father and a Malay mother, has repeatedly revealed how often he has to deal with racist abuse on social media.
“I deal with it all the time,” he explains. “People just think raising a finger, abusing someone or making racist comments is okay these days, and I just don’t think that’s okay at all. to use as motivation, but that’s easier said than done.
“People talk about you and do bad things. They do not realize what you realize. You just have to try to eliminate it and use it as motivation and hold on to the people around you who are sending you positive energy all the time.