Whether it’s one of love or hate, every tennis fan has an opinion about Nick Kyrgios. While there is little consensus about the controversial Australian tennis player, fans from around the world are now fixated on the man breaking every written and unwritten rule of tennis. And in today’s society, any publicity is good publicity for tennis, making Kyrgios an essential figure in the decades-long struggle to grow the sport.
When Nick Kyrgios made the final of Wimbledon — a feat even he never thought possible — he took the world through a wild ride. The unseeded 27-year-old drew viral attention for his riveting skills, turbulent on-court behavior, rebellious fashion choices and reality TV-worthy press conferences. We have come to expect nothing less from Kyrgios, a player paving his own path in a sport rich with tradition.
Custom is hard to ignore at the Wimbledon Championships, and it doesn’t just manifest itself in strawberries and cream, the tournament’s historic dessert served nearly 200,000 times each year. The all-white dress code seems to extend beyond the players’ clothing and describes most of the faces in the crowd and the color of the hair on top of their heads.
Kyrgios boldly defied one of the tournament’s greatest traditions by wearing a red Air Jordan hat after his matches, which the media couldn’t ignore. When Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, presented Kyrgios with the finalist trophy, he proudly shook her hand while wearing his red cap.
Despite facing fines and scrutiny, Kyrgios explained in a press conference that he broke the coveted rule “because I do what I want.” He went on to say, “No, I’m not above the rules. I just like wearing my Jordans. That’s okay. I’ll wear some Triple Whites tomorrow.”
Perhaps the Australian with Malaysian roots meant to spread a more powerful message — not even British royalty can suppress Nick Kyrgios’ individual expression, which is perhaps one that doesn’t align with the customary conventions of the sport.
Kyrgios was never one to follow the pact. He doesn’t look like other players on the court, wearing basketball tank tops and displaying a sleeve of tattoos paying tribute to the three kings of basketball: Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Kyrgios also doesn’t play like other players, throwing in trick shots, tweeners and underhand serves.
Most notably, though, Kyrgios doesn’t act like other players. He was featured on House of Highlights for throwing a chair onto the court at the Italian Open, on ESPN for launching a water bottle at the umpire’s chair in Washington, D.C., and nearly every other notable sports channel for his constant, inappropriate outbursts. A typical Kyrgios match will involve him berating his player’s box, using obscene language between points, engaging in heated arguments with the chair umpire and officials and either friendly or hostile engagements with the crowd. While he has certainly crossed the line at times and lost control over his emotions, these erratic displays draw much-needed attention to the tennis world.
In the Wimbledon final, Kyrgios ranted to his box for over a set and a half about his disapproval with their level of encouragement. When ESPN returned from commercial breaks, they replayed Kyrgios’ monologues on changeovers, which seemed more fit for a Shakespearean theater than Center Court.
Whether or not Kyrgios is respectful to his opponents varies on a match-by-match basis and is a hot topic for debate. However, despite his eccentric, unconventional practices, Kyrgios will be the first to point out that stadiums are always packed for his matches. In a sport where the average viewer is near retirement and growing older, Kyrgios might be tennis’s knight in shining armor.
Throughout his Wimbledon run, kids on TikTok posted about Kyrgios, exclaiming how the 6-foot-4 big server single-handedly got them interested in the sport. While Novak Djokovic might end his career as the greatest player ever, many younger fans tuned in for the Wimbledon final to watch Kyrgios, not the 21-time Grand Slam champion.
While the Big 3 — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — have carried the sport for almost two decades, they lack the personality and theatrics of Kyrgios, who has beaten them all in his rollercoaster career. Unlike the stellar demeanor of the Big 3, Kyrgios is down to Earth and relatable to Generation Z. He never shies away from speaking his mind, streams Call of Duty on Twitch, posts highlight reel mixtapes on his Instagram and struggles to stay disciplined.
Resisting the allure of Nick Kyrgios is like trying to return his 136mph serves — it’s just not possible. The former men’s world No. 13 has a swagger that appeals to a new audience of tennis fans, and he is finally revolutionizing a game that has been frozen in time for decades.
If you’re going to be watching him, you might as well root for him. Let the Nick Kyrgios show go on.
Robbie Werdiger is a junior in the College. Causing a Racquet appears online every other week.