So follow this: Nick Kyrgios has been fined an additional $25,000 and suspended 28 days for going all Scarlet Letter on Stan Wawrinka’s girlfriend, tennis player Donna Vekic, at the Rogers Cup.
Except he hasn’t been. Nick will only pay the additional fine and serve the suspension if he misbehaves over the course of a six-month period ending Feb. 24.
Are we surprised that Vekic called the so-called punishment “ridiculous” and has refused to discuss the matter further? She played her qualifying match at the US Open, which starts Monday, in tears, blaming the officiating and the heat. But which heat – the weather or the over-baked media reports of a “tearful tennis starlet” and a “love triangle drama.” Huh?
Meanwhile, Nike allowed Nick to participate in a media event with such icons as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who warned Nick, “Behave, young man.”
Indeed, Nick’s been called out by everyone from Novak Djokovic to John McEnroe, himself a onetime tennis bad boy who would never have implied that an opponent’s significant other was a slut. It’s below the belt.
And yet, the ATP, by levying a conditional sentence, and Nike, by allowing Nick to have a high-old time – there he was, posing with an arm around Madison Keys – are sending a mixed message. And the message is this: Assaults on women’s sexuality and reputation don’t really matter. Look at the Internet posts: Many of them, clearly from young men, are WTF? They don’t get it.
And by coddling Nick – however charismatic a talent he may be – tennis risks the possibility he never will.