Tennis player Nick Kyrgios pleaded guilty Friday in an Australian court to assaulting his ex-girlfriend, and avoided conviction for what the judge called an “act of stupidity.”
The Wimbledon finalist admitted to a Canberra court that he assaulted his then-girlfriend, Chiara Passari, on Jan. 10, 2021 by pushing her to the floor after an intense argument.
“I reacted to a difficult situation in a way that I deeply regret,” Kyrgios said in a statement. “I know it was not right, and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt caused,” the tennis player added in his statement.
Passari filed the complaint with police 10 months later, after the relationship ended, lawyers said in court. In a statement read in court, Passari said she was severely traumatized by the event, suffered severe weight loss and spent days and nights in bed unable to sleep or establish new affective relationships.
Kyrgios’ lawyers asked to dismiss the assault charge on mental health grounds, arguing that it was an isolated incident and outside his normal behavior.
Psychologist Sam Borenstein told the court that Kyrgios suffered from recurrent depression, including thoughts of self-harm, insomnia, agitation and guilt.
Borenstein said the Australian tennis player turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, and has now improved. “At this point, his mental health has improved significantly,” Borenstein said. Judge Beth Campbell ultimately ruled to dismiss the charge.
Campbell stated that Kyrgios acted wrongly but that the assault was not planned or premeditated and was “a mere act of stupidity” by a young man in a tense situation.
Kyrgios allegedly pushed Passari, who was trying to stop him from leaving her Canberra apartment.
Kyrgios arrived at the Canberra court on crutches from knee surgery that kept him out of the Australian Open in January. He was accompanied by his current girlfriend Costeen Hatzi, an interior designer, and his mother Norlaila, and did not provide statements to the press upon arrival.
The Canberra-born tennis player, known for his volatile talent and on-court outbursts, has spoken publicly in the past about his battles with depression and the pressure of global tennis fame.
“I’m proud to say I’ve completely changed and have a totally different perspective on everything,” he wrote last year on Instagram. The trial was suspended in October when Kyrgios was preparing to contest the Japan Open so that experts could prepare mental health reports for the court.
The tennis player, currently ranked No. 20 in the world, features extensively in the first episode of the Netflix documentary Break Point. The doubles winner at last year’s Australian Open alongside friend Thanasi Kokkinakis did not participate in this year’s tournament.
His coach Daniel Horsfall said he underwent surgery to remove a cyst inside his knee. He added that the operation was successful and that he “might recover faster than we expected.”
Kyrgios rose to fame as a 19-year-old in 2014 when he defeated Rafael Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.Criticized for wasting his talent, Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon final last year but was defeated by Novak Djokovic.