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Tennis star Nick Kyrgios pleads guilty to assault but avoids punishment

Nick Kyrgios, on crutches after recent knee surgery, avoided conviction on an assault charge in his native Australia. (Mick Tsikas/AP)
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Tennis star Nick Kyrgios on Friday pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in his native Australia, but he avoided conviction, and the charge will not remain on his criminal record.

The charge stemmed from a 2021 incident involving Kyrgios and his former girlfriend, who told the court that Kyrgios pushed her to the pavement as he tried to leave her apartment in an Uber following an argument, causing minor injuries. Kyrgios apologized to his former girlfriend the next day.

Magistrate Beth Campbell called the incident “a single act of stupidity or frustration,” accepted Kyrgios’s plea and did not record a conviction because the act was not premeditated and because Kyrgios did not have a criminal record.

“You acted in the heat of the moment,” Campbell said, according to the BBC. “I am dealing with you in the same way I would deal with any young man in this court. You are a young man who happens to hit a tennis ball particularly well.”

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Kyrgios, who is on crutches following recent knee surgery, did not respond to reporters’ questions as he left the courtroom in Canberra but issued a statement after the hearing.

“I respect today’s ruling and am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” Kyrgios said, according to the Associated Press. “I was not in a good place when this took place and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I’m sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.”

Kyrgios’s attorneys had tried and failed to have the charge dismissed on mental health grounds. His psychologist, Sam Borenstein, testified that the tennis player was suffering major depressive episodes around the time of the incident and had been using alcohol and drugs to cope with them, leading to reckless behavior.

“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I’ve found that getting help and working on myself has helped me to feel better and to be better,” Kyrgios, who has talked openly about his struggles with depression over the course of his tennis career, said in his statement.

The 27-year-old faced a potential two-year prison sentence, and his defense lawyers argued that a conviction would lead to “sanctions” from tennis authorities and an “impact on sponsorship.” In certain situations, Australian law allows defendants to plead guilty without having the charge remain on their criminal record.