Five years after pulling out of the Rio Games due to ‘unfair and unjust treatment’, Nick Kyrgios is finally set to make his Olympic debut.
Kyrgios has been named as part of an 11-strong tennis team announced for next month’s Tokyo Games, along with women’s world No.1 Ash Barty and top-ranked Australian male Alex de Minaur.
But the biggest talking point is the inclusion of Kyrgios, the tennis rock star who famously turned his back on the Rio Games following a public spat with then chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
“AOC’s unfair and unjust treatment of me over the last four weeks, as well as the organization’s crystal clear position on whether they want me to be a part of the Australian Olympic team, has solidified my final decision,” Kyrgios said at the time
Then Australia’s highest ranked player, Kyrgios withdrew despite admitting that representing Australia at an Olympics had been a childhood dream.
Bring it on: Nick Kyrgios will be at the Tokyo OlympicsSource: Getty Images
That dream will now be realised in Tokyo, where Kyrgios, John Millman and James Duckworth will join de Minaur in the men’s singles, while Barty, veteran Sam Stosur – in her fifth Olympics – and Ajla Tomljanovic will feature in the women’s singles.
Barty will play doubles with Storm Sanders, and Stosur with Ellen Perez, while in the men’s doubles Millman will partner Luke Saville, and doubles star John Peers will team up with de Minaur.
With 11 athletes selected, the Tokyo squad is the biggest fielded by Australia at an Olympics, bettering the 10-strong teams from Sydney 2000 and Rio 2016.
Barty, a red-hot gold medal chance, spoke of her pride at being the Australia’s first Indigenous Olympian in tennis.
“I think making your first Olympic team, particularly as an Australian, we have such a rich history and the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamt of and obviously super excited to get out there and represent the green and gold with the rest of the team,” Barty said.
“It’s a massive united team and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
SERENA DROPS OLYMPIC BOMBSHELL
Serena Williams has joined fellow tennis legend Rafael Nadal saying she will not play at the Tokyo Olympics next month.
The 39-year-old American revealed her decision at her pre-Wimbledon press conference.
“I’m actually not on the Olympic list, so… Not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it,” she said.
She refused to divulge the reasons for her decision.
However, a ban on foreign fans as well as family members at the Olympics would have meant Williams being separated from her daughter Alexis Olympia.
The Olympics have already been delayed by a year and organisers have been forced to introduce strict measures to fight Covid-19.
“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” she said. “I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry.”
Williams is the joint most successful Olympian in tennis history in terms of gold medals alongside sister Venus having won one gold medal each in singles and three in doubles.
Serena Williams has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: AFPSource: AFP
Venus edges the medal count slightly as she also won a silver in mixed doubles in 2016 in Rio.
Serena, who is bidding to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon, added she had not really thought about what it would mean to miss the Games.
She won the 2012 Olympic singles title in London on the same Centre Court where she has won seven Wimbledon singles titles.
She also won doubles gold with sister Venus in Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and London.
“I have not thought about it (missing the Games),” said Williams, who plays world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round at Wimbledon.
“In the past it’s been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.” Nadal announced earlier this month he would be missing Wimbledon and the Olympics so as to look after his body and prolong his career.
His great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have yet to decide whether they will go to Tokyo.
Federer, who like Serena is 39, said Saturday it will depend on how he fares at Wimbledon.
Two-time defending Olympic singles champion Andy Murray will be going, fitness permitting, as he has been selected in the Team GB squad.
Austrian Dominic Thiem will be another absentee.
The 27-year-old 2020 US Open champion announced his decision on the same day as Nadal and just before he withdrew from Wimbledon due to a wrist injury.pi/dj