There are many openly active male players in big five American sports like NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and MLS. But, it’s totally opposite in terms of the pro tennis world.
While it seems normal for female players to come out in pro tennis (WTA), the concept of being open about their sexuality for male players is still a scary journey in ATP.
Many of the former world’s No.1 tennis female players like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova stepped in to come out while they were active in their professional careers. While a few male players came out after their retirement.
But, let’s take a minute to embrace the seven greatest tennis players who are homosexual.
|S.N.||Name of the Player||Country|
|2.||Billie Jean King||US|
Greatest Tennis Players Who Are Homosexual
7. Francisco Rodríguez
Francisco Rodríguez is a former tennis player from Paraguay. He competed on pro tours from 2001 to 2006.
Rodríguez was the University of Alabama’s top tennis player who won All-American titles in singles in both 1998 and 1999.
During his 2003 tour with ITF Futures, he won his first pro singles title.
Besides, Rodríguez hit the career record of (14-5) in singles and (5-1) in doubles in the 2004 Davis Cup. With that, he earned the spot for the world’s no. 373.
In 2008, Rodríguez came out as gay via Out Magazine. He had stated that if he had come out publicly during his pro tours, he would be treated nothing but as an outcast.
6. Brian Vahaly
Holding the 6th spot is the world’s former No.64 tennis champ, Brian Vahaly.
In 2001 at the tender age of 22, he made his professional debut with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). But, it was in 2003 that Vahaly reached the pinnacle of his career.
At that time, he beat the three top 10 tennis players (then No.1 Fernando González), Juan Carlos Ferrero, and Tommy Robredo. With that, he made it as a quarterfinalist of the 2003 Indian Wells.
His other successful feat was when he and Andy Roddick defeated the no.1 doubles team of Bryan Brothers (Bob & Mike).
Over the course of his career, Vahaly has played in events in Indianapolis, Australian Open, and US Open.
In 2007, he took retirement due to his prolonged shoulder surgery.
In 2017, he came out openly as gay through a podcast of Sport’s Illustrated journalist, Jon Wertheim.
He revealed that he was married to his husband, Bill Jones, and had two twin boys, Bennett and Parker. And, he was afraid of coming out due to homophobic jokes and unacceptance in ATP.
After coming out, Vahaly received more than 1000 hate messages from the public. Moreover, they also threatened to take his children away from him.
But, Vahaly is resilient towards such responses. He is living his life freely with his loving family as the CEO of YouFit Health Clubs. Further, he hopes that men’s tennis will also open up towards homosexual players as in other sports worlds.
5. Casey Dellacqua
Coming to the 5th spot is one of the best left-handed doubles players from Australia, Casey Dellacqua.
Dellacqua competed on pro tours from 2002 to 2018. She now currently serves as the commentator for the Australian Open.
Besides, she is a former world’s No. 3 in doubles.
During her career, she won 22 ITF singles, 23 ITF doubles, 7 WTA Tour doubles and made it to four Grand Slam finals in doubles.
Moreover, she won the 2001 French Open Grand Slam mixed-doubles with the US doubles star, Scott Lipsky.
In a 2013 interview, Dellacqua came out as a lesbian. She revealed that she was married to her long-term partner, Amanda Judd.
The lovely couple has a 5-year-old son, Blake Benjamin, and a two-year-old daughter, Andie. In 2019, they gave birth to a baby boy named Jesse James.
4. Gigi Fernández
On this spot comes another best doubles player of all time.
Gigi Fernández is the first female tennis player from Puerto Rico. She competed from 1983 to 1997.
Since 2011, Fernández has been coaching tennis players on how to excel at doubles through her company, Gigi Fernández Tennis.
Besides, she is the former world’s No.1 player in doubles. During her career in court, she won two Olympic medals in doubles and 17 Grand Slam titles in doubles.
Moreover, the International Tennis Hall of Fame inducted Fernández in 2010. With that, she became the first Puerto Rican to be a Hall of Famer.
The rising star of Puerto Rico publicly opened up as a lesbian during the peak of her career. She shares twins, Karson and Madison, with her wife, Jane Geddes, who is a former golfer and winner of 11 LPGA Tours.
3. Lisa Raymond
Lisa Raymond is a former tennis player from Pennsylvania who had a thriving career from 1989 to 2015 in doubles and mixed doubles.
The 11 times Grand Slam winner (six in doubles and five in mixed doubles) hit the world’s No.1 spot in doubles for the first time in her career in 2000. With that, she became the 13th player to do so.
Besides, she also was a bronze medalist in the 2012 Summer Olympics in mixed-doubles.
Currently, she holds the record for most doubles played with 1,206, and most doubles won with 860.
While talking about her sexuality, she has been very open as a lesbian throughout her sports career.
She had dated her former doubles partner, Rennae Stubs, for a long time in the past.
2. Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King is one of the greatest female tennis players in history.
She is a former world’s No.1 tennis player and 1987 Hall of Famer. During her career from 1959 to 1990, she led the US teams to win 7 Federation Cups and 9 Wightman Cups.
Besides, King has 39 Grand Slam titles to her name, of which 12 are in singles, 14 in mixed doubles, and 16 in doubles.
She is regarded as the pioneer for advocating women’s tennis in 1973 through the momentous match “Battle of Sexes,” which she won. Similarly, King is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis.
King was married to Larry King in 1965. But, later, their relationship began to degrade. Billie was attracted to women and had secret relationships with them.
In 1981, the public began to question King’s sexuality. As her ex-lover and personal secretary, Marilyn Barnett filed a public palimony suit against King.
She refused to accept that she was a lesbian and covered up the affair saying as a mistake.
After several months, she admitted to the public that she was, in fact, a lesbian. And she did not reveal it due to the fear that she might lose her sponsors. But, all the damage was done. Even though the court closed the case, King lost her sponsors and had to face a financial crisis.
In 2018, King married her doubles partner, Ilana Kloss, and divorced Larry King. Today, she is working as an active advocate for LGBT rights in the sports world.
1. Martina Navratilova
At the top spot comes the Czekoshlovakian born American tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
She competed in the pro tours from 1974 to 2006.
Martina holds the record for most Grand Slams won by men or women with 59 (18 singles, 31 doubles, and 20 mixed doubles).
Besides, she had a record for most wins in doubles (men or women), with 177 that spanned for more than four decades.
In a 1981 interview with New York Daily News, Martina revealed that she was a bisexual. But, she requested them not to publish it till she comes out publicly by herself. Despite her request, they published it.
After her coming out, Martina had to lose some of her sponsors, and the public booed her during the games. She had 11 Grand Slams in her hand at that time. But, she didn’t give up and ended up making a permanent mark in tennis history.
In 2014, Martina married her long-time Russian girlfriend and 1990 Miss USSR, Julia Lemigova.
Currently, she is working as an active advocate for LGBT people and trans women’s rights in the sports world.