Russian tennis player Daria Kasatkina said she feels more “free” after coming out as a lesbian last month as fellow players cheered for the women’s world No. 12.
Last month, Kasatkina said she was inspired to come forward after Russian soccer player Nadya Karpova revealed she was a lesbian in a country where homosexuality is frowned upon.
Russia’s existing “gay propaganda” law, passed in 2013, has been used to stop gay parades and detain gay rights activists.
“I don’t know how the social media filter works, but I just heard some very good things,” said Kasatkina, whose friend, Olympic figure skater Natalya Zabiyako, was cheering for her this week at the Silicon Valley Classic in California. .
“I am very happy about it. As I saw, it was not only good for me, but also helped other people. I feel more free and happy. I think I made the right step. With the situation in the world, all these tough things when if not now?”
Former women’s world No. 1 Naomi Osaka, who has spoken out about racial injustice and police brutality, said it was “really amazing” to see Kasatkina’s stance.
“I really think we should rally to support her because it’s a bit of a dangerous situation,” said the four-time Grand Slam champion. “But I think in all of this, it’s really incredible that she comes out and stands up for what she believes in. I always support it.”
American teenager Coco Gauff, who has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, said she was “very happy” for Kasatkina.
“I think in tennis, at least with the girls, we are all very supportive of each other, regardless of background or personality,” Gauff said. “I don’t think there’s any judgment when it comes down to it.”