Australian Nick Kyrgios was at the center of controversy at Wimbledon on Tuesday after he spit in the direction of a fan whom he said had been verbally abusing him throughout his first-round match.
The 27-year-old Kyrgios, who beat Paul Jubb of Britain 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-7 (3), 7-5 to reach the second round, turned toward the fan after clinching victory and spit in his direction.
"Today, as soon as I won the match, I turned to him ... I've been dealing with hate and negativity for a long time, so I don't feel like I owed that person anything," Kyrgios said. He had also asked for the fan to be removed, he said.
"He literally came to the match to literally just, like, not even support anyone really," Kyrgios said. "It was more just to stir up and disrespect. That's fine. But if I give it back to you, then that's just how it is."
Kyrgios, who held an almost constant conversation with umpire Marija Cicack throughout the match, blamed social media for the way that some fans behave.
"I love this tournament; it's got nothing to do with Wimbledon," Kyrgios said of the incident. "I just think it's a whole generation of people on social media feeling like they have a right to comment on every single thing with negativity. It just carries on to real life.
"Because there's a fence there -- and I physically can't do anything or say anything because I'll get in trouble -- they just feel the need that they're just able to say anything they want."
Kyrgios was warned after hitting a ball out of the stadium at one stage and also called one lineswoman a "snitch" when she went to speak to the umpire, apparently for something he said at the back of the court.
"I didn't do anything and she went to the umpire and told her something that I didn't say," Kyrgios said. "She found it relevant to go to run to the umpire at 30-love and make it about her. No one was there to see her today, factually."
At one point during the match, Kyrgios was heard saying, "I don't start clapping when they're scanning s--t at a supermarket, do I?" He defended those comments following the match.
"I've never, ever just gone to anyone else's job and just blatantly spat, disrespected them," Kyrgios said. "I don't understand why people do that to athletes. Why do they feel the need that that's acceptable?
"It's happening more and more in [sports]. Like, spectators are just, I don't know, so disrespectful to the athletes. I don't think it's OK. Like, have you ever gone into like a supermarket and just started berating someone scanning the groceries? No. So why do they do it when I'm at Wimbledon? Why is that?"