Stefanos Tsitsipas says comments he made towards Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon in 2022 have been “misinterpreted” after they were perceived as racist on social media.
Greece’s Tsitsipas said the Australian’s approach to tennis was “uneducated” after he was knocked out in a fiery third-round clash.
He also said Kyrgios brought “that NBA basketball attitude” to tennis.
His remarks were shown in the new series of Netflix’s Break Point.
Tsitsipas, the current world number five, said there had been “an unfortunate misunderstanding that has a distorted picture of my intentions”.
“It has come to my attention that some individuals have misinterpreted my comments regarding Nick Kyrgios… insinuating racism where none exists,” Tsitsipas, 24, wrote on Facebook.
“I want to emphasise that I harbour no prejudice towards anyone based on their background, ethnicity, or interests. I deeply regret if my words were misinterpreted or caused offence, as that was never my intention.”
He added: “My previous remarks regarding Nick Kyrgios were not meant to undermine his intelligence or abilities. Instead, I simply intended to express my perspective on certain aspects of his playing style, drawing comparisons to the passion and intensity often associated with basketball.
“It was an attempt to highlight the dynamic and captivating nature of his approach to the game, not a criticism of his character or capabilities.”
Tsitsipas said he “deeply regrets” any hurt he may have caused and would be “more mindful” of his words and their impact in the future.
Kyrgios won the match 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 6-3 7-6 (9-7) en route to reaching his first Grand Slam final, which he lost to Novak Djokovic.
In an incident-packed encounter, Kyrgios called for Tsitsipas to be defaulted after he hit a ball into the crowd upon losing the second set, narrowly missing a spectator.
The Australian had received a warning for an obscenity by then, while Tsitsipas was given a point penalty for a second code violation as he responded to an underarm serve by hitting the ball away in frustration.
After the match, Tsitsipas called Kyrgios a “bully” with “an evil side” while Kyrgios said Tsitsipas had “serious issues”.
Responding to Tsitsipas’ statement on Saturday, Kyrgios said: “It was a very heated battle. Sometimes as players we go into these press conferences without digesting the match. We’ve had some crazy battles and I know deep down you like my brand of tennis. We are all good.”
Kyrgios had knee surgery in January and his presence at Wimbledon, which starts on 3 July, remains in doubt after he pulled out of the Mallorca Open on Saturday.
Having also withdrawn from the Halle Open in Germany last week, Kyrgios said in a video on Twitter he was “super disappointed” to be missing the Wimbledon warm-up event in Spain.