I didn't have a childhood... That took its toll: Tomic

Bernard Tomic knows exactly what you think of him: spoiled, ungrateful, out of control.

"I've said so many things in so many press conferences that caused problems," says the professional tennis player, who once ranked No. 17 in the world. " There's been incidents with police and arrests in Miami. Obviously, I did these things and I regret them. Now I'm keen to show people a different side to my personality."

Tomic, 25, is competing in the new season of Channel Ten's reality show, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! Ostensibly, he's there because he's famous. In all likelihood, his notoriety made him attractive to the producers.

Last year, Tomic was fined $20,000 for feigning an injury in his first-round Wimbledon defeat. He's committed multiple traffic violations in his high-powered BMW. And when police responded to a noise complaint from his neighbours, he told them to "relax" - and kindly shut the door on their way out.

Much to his surprise, they arrested him instead.

"I regret 80 per cent of what I've done," he says.

Tomic isn't asking for forgiveness, but he is keen to explain himself. He points out that he became famous when he was a teenager - and teenagers tend to do dumb stuff. The difference is, his antics became national news stories.

"I didn't know any life apart from tennis since I was eight years old," he says.

"I was just a machine, training with my father ... I didn't have a childhood; obviously, that took its toll."

Of course, he was an adult when - after failing to qualify for the Australian Open this year - he invited journalists to replicate on-court feats while he counted his millions.

"I regretted saying that about two minutes later," he says. "But when you truly get to know me, I'm a good guy. I'm not the bad boy people think I am."

As a professional sportsperson, Tomic believes he has the discipline to tough it out in the jungle. But all bets are off if he's forced to deal with snakes or scorpions.

"The animals are my biggest fear - but I think if any person came across a scorpion, they would freak out.

"I really feel I can show people another side to my personality in the jungle."

I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here starts Sunday 7.30pm on Channel Ten.

The journalist travelled to South Africa courtesy of Ten.

This story I didn't have a childhood... That took its toll: Tomic first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.