Nick Kyrgios: Assault charge dismissed after tennis star admits shoving ex-girlfriend

Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios arrives at the ACT Magistrates Court in Canberra, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. Kyrgios has pleaded guilty in an Australian court to assaulting a former girlfriend during an argument in January 2021. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios arrives at the ACT Magistrates Court in Canberra on Friday. Credit: PA

Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has apologised for shoving a former girlfriend to the ground two years ago after he escaped conviction on a charge of common assault.

Magistrate Beth Campbell did not convict Kyrgios for reasons including that the offense was at the low end of seriousness for a common assault, and because it was not premeditated.

The 27-year-old had pleaded guilty in the Australian Capital Territory Magistrates Court to assaulting Chiara Passari during an argument in his hometown of Canberra in January 2021.

The court heard Kyrgios had been attempting to leave Passari during the row at 10 pm on January 10, 2021, outside her apartment in the inner-Canberra suburb of Kingston.

He called an Uber but Passari also went outside and stood in the way of him closing the front passenger side door. The driver wouldn’t leave with the door open.

Kyrgios eventually pushed Passari's shoulders backward with open palms, causing her to fall to the pavement and graze her knee, according to agreed facts read to the court.

Passari signed a police statement alleging the assault 11 months later, after her relationship with Kyrgios had ended.

Lawyers for Kyrgios had sought to have the assault charge stemming from events two years ago dismissed on mental health grounds but the application was unsuccessful.

Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, said in a written report and testimony by phone that Kyrgios had suffered major depressive episodes in the past and had used alcohol and drugs to cope.

His recent knee injury had resulted in mild to moderate symptoms of depression, but his mental health was improving, Borenstein said.

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Kyrgios' current partner, Costeen Hatzi, who was among his supporters sitting behind him in court, wrote in a character reference that she had no concerns of violence in her relationship.

Kyrgios, wearing a dark suit and using the crutches following knee surgery, first spoke in court on Friday when the magistrate asked him if he could stand to enter a plea.

He replied: “Yep, no worries, Your Honour,” as he rose to plead guilty.

The judge described the shove as an act of “stupidity” and “frustration.”

The magistrate assured him his celebrity was not a factor in him avoiding a criminal record.

“You’re a young man who happens to hit the tennis ball particularly well and your name is widely recognised outside this court room,” Campbell told Kyrgrios.

“I deal with you exactly the same way as any young man in this court.”Common assault carries a maximum sentence of two years' jail in ACT.

Kyrgios did not speak to reporters as he left court but issued a statement through a management company.

“I respect today’s ruling and am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction," Kyrgios said. “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.

“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."

The Wimbledon 2022 runner-up withdrew from the Australian Open last month because of his knee injury, which later required arthroscopic surgery.

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