There’s never been a top-100 player on the ATP Tour to come out publicly while he’s been playing. While the women have counted legends like Martina Navratilova and Amelie Mauresmo, as well as current players like Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen, amongst their out ranks, the men have had no one. Brian Vahaly came out publicly after he retired.
At the US Open on Wednesday it was Pride Day, which opened the door for reporters to ask some of the game’s best players how they’d feel about having an out gay athlete on the Tour. The questions for the athletes reflected one of the powers of having these Pride events in sports, as the reporters would not have asked these questions otherwise.
“I think everybody would be super open if somebody would come out on the ATP Tour,” said No. 2 Daniil Medvedez of Russia. “I think it’s great for the US Open, this initiative.”
Felix Auger-Aliassime, currently No. 15 in the world, said it’s important for everyone to be open to having LGBTQ athletes on the Tour.
“I think it’s important these days to be aware of that and to be open minded and the ATP needs to do that in today’s time,” Auger-Aliassime said.
Stefanos Tsitsipas said he believes the ATP Tour is a safe space for gay athletes to come out.
“They would be supported, for sure,” said the world No. 3, who hails from Greece. “I don’t know how it is in other sports. I see no reason, for example, a tour like the ATP not to accept something like this.”
All of this is great to hear from top players. Just yesterday I talked with Navratilova, who thought there might be a difference in perceived acceptance in the locker room between men and women.
“I think there’s just more stigma in the locker room for men than the women,” Navratilova said. “I never thought anyone was looking at me funny in the locker room, like someone needed to cover up. I never felt any kind of animosity. But I think the guys are afraid of that. I think it would be ok, but they are afraid of it.”
Hearing this kind of support on the men’s side help undercut the stigma and fear.
Auger-Aliassime also mentioned a survey of players on the topic that the ATP Tour is currently conducting. Outsports is glad to hear about this survey. They’ll find a lot of acceptance amongst the players, though of course it’s hard to imagine universal acceptance amongst a group of athletes from all around the world. We look forward to seeing the results.