London: Serena Williams has called on tennis fans to justify coating faces in chocolate and various spreads in support of firebrand Australian star Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios supporter Mitchell McConachy contacted the box-office tennis star from Canberra on Facebook, saying: "If you reply to this I'll cover my face in Vegemite."
A reply from his tennis idol led McConachy to smear the edible spread on his face and post the picture. Other fans followed suit, some with chocolate spread, raising questions as to whether the light-hearted stunt is racist, given Kyrgios' Greek and Asian heritage.
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Fresh from defeating sister Venus, Serena Williams attempted to stay out of the debate — only to concede she would be keen to discover why fans considered covering faces with coloured spread appropriate. "Oh, gosh, I never, I don't know. I don't even want to talk about that. I don't care. Really? I didn't know that," said Serena Williams.
"I think you're better asking the fans that question. Maybe they can give you some insight. And let me know, I'd be interested to know." Before the match with Frenchman Gasquet, Kyrgios wrote to McConachy: "OI! Where is the face full of vegemite."'
It soon followed, and 20-year-old Kyrgios wrote back: "'HAHAHAHAHAHA this is so awesome - thanks so much for the support dude.... Doesn't get more Australian than support of your locals and a face full of vegemite."