Nick Kyrgios had a history of severe depression, suicidal thoughts and insomnia, a psychologist said in court on Friday, as the Australian tennis star pleaded guilty to pushing a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago.
The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up pleaded guilty in Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court to assaulting Chiara Passari during a dispute in his hometown of Canberra in January 2021.
Judge Jane Campbell did not record a conviction against Kyrgios, in part because the offense of joint assault was on the lower end of the seriousness spectrum and was not premeditated.
Campbell described it as an act of “stupidity” and “frustration.”
Kyrgios, who was using crutches after recent surgery on his left knee, did not speak to reporters as he left the court but made a statement through a management company.
“I respect today’s verdict and am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without a conviction,” Kyrgios said. “I was not in a good place when this happened and I responded to a difficult situation in a way that I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t okay and I’m sincerely sorry for the pain I caused.
“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I’ve found that getting help and working on myself has helped me to feel and be better.”
Kyrgios’ psychologist Sam Borenstein said in a written report and telephone testimony that Kyrgios had a history of major depressive episodes and used alcohol and drugs to cope. Kyrgio’s mental health resulted in impulsive and reckless behavior.
His recent knee injury had resulted in mild to moderate symptoms of depression, but his mental health was improving, Borenstein said.
“He’s doing very well,” said Borenstein. “His mental health has improved significantly.”
Kyrgios’ lawyers had attempted to dismiss a charge of assault based on events two years earlier on mental health grounds, but the motion was unsuccessful.
Kyrgios had attempted to leave Passari during an argument at 10pm on January 10, 2021 outside her home in Kingston, a suburb of Canberra. He called an Uber, but Passari stood in his way as he closed the passenger door. The driver didn’t want to drive away with the door open.
Kyrgios eventually pushed Passari’s shoulders back with open palms, causing her to fall to the pavement and graze her knee, like agreed facts read to the court.
Passari signed a police statement eleven months later, after her relationship with Kyrgios ended, alleging the attack.
His current partner, Costeen Hatzi, wrote in a character reference that she had no concerns about violence in their relationship. Hatzi was among Kyrgios’ supporters who sat behind him in court.
Kyrgios, wearing a dark suit and leaning on crutches, spoke first in court when the judge asked him if he could bear to attend a pleading.
In February last year, Kyrgios spoke about his performance at the 2019 Australian Open, saying what appeared to be a positive time in his life was “one of my darkest times”.
“I was lonely, depressed, negative, abusing alcohol, drugs, pushing away family and friends,” he wrote on Instagram. “I felt like I couldn’t talk to or trust anyone. That was the result of not opening up and refusing to lean on loved ones and just gradually push myself to be positive.”
Kyrgios continued to cite his mental health issues during his runs to the Wimbledon final and US Open quarterfinals last year.
After ending Daniil Medvedev’s US Open title defense to reach the quarterfinals last September, Kyrgios took pride in breaking out of “some really difficult situations, mentally” and “some really scary places” off the pitch.
Kyrgios, 27, had a career setback last month when he withdrew from the Australian Open with the knee injury that later required arthroscopic surgery.