Childish antics of players such as Kyrgios tarnish the game and ultimately their own careers so they should be held to account.

The All England Club, that supposed stronghold of decorum and dignity, will crown its latest men's and women's champions this weekend. But in any review of this year's Wimbledon, those winners will have to compete for space with a 20-year-old Australian who got no further than the fourth round. Such was the impact of Nick Kyrgios, whose abominable behaviour attracted fines of just $14,300 - a paltry sum for a tennis professional - but no other official censure. On show yet again was a willingness to blindly worship any sportsman or woman who reveals a smidgen of talent.

Much of the British media fawned over Kyrgios. He was, said one commentator, "Wimbledon's talking point and a breath of fresh air". Never mind the foul-mouthed abuse directed particularly at umpires or the occasion when he appeared to commit the cardinal sin of not trying. For the latter, he was not penalised. The British, it seems, are all too ready to get behind a bad boy.

As much was evident during John McEnroe's tiresome tantrums at Wimbledon during the early 1980s. No action was taken to rein in the American and he concluded, quite correctly, that because he attracted crowds he could get away with virtually anything. Only towards the end of his career was he ejected from a grand slam event, the 1990 Australian Open, for verbal abuse. The game has never fully recovered from his impact.

But the damage is not one-sided. McEnroe will always be remembered more for his antics than his three Wimbledon and four United States Open titles. Equally, it is usually the gifted young sportsmen and women who are the most imperilled by the free pass gifted them. If they do not channel their emotions and energy effectively, they are destined to be also-rans.


For proof of this, Kyrgios needs look no further than the stalled career of his compatriot Bernard Tomic. Australians, desperate for a new tennis champion after a period in the doldrums, greeted him enthusiastically and uncritically. Predictably, he became the archetypal brat, and this year ended his Wimbledon campaign with a bizarre appeal for respect from Tennis Australia.

Kyrgios could also examine the careers of the likes of Goran Ivanisevic and Marcos Baghdatis whose initial success evaporated in torrent of a racquet-smashing. And he could look at Andre Agassi and Roger Federer. They came to quickly understand that while tennis, more than most games, encourages self-absorption and arrogance, this can easily become counterproductive. They became great champions by adding grace and poise to their talent.

Oddly, the most stinging criticism of Kyrgios has come from his fellow countrymen and women. They may go along with the sledging of their cricketers but his antics were considered beyond the pale. Dawn Fraser swam in the waters of intolerance when she declared that if Kyrgios and Tomic could not behave appropriately, they should "go back to where their fathers or parents came from".

Unfortunately, that outburst provided the pair with a moral high ground that they most certainly did not deserve. It is also deflected attention from their behaviour and the blind spot that expedites it. It is, as Andy Murray pointed out, not easy to grow up under the spotlight. But it is all too easy to squander talent by not growing up at all.