It was quite a weekend for Thailand Luksika Kumkhum on the women’s pro tennis tour as she won the WTA Mumbai Open for her biggest win to date.
In Sunday’s Mumbai Open final she beat Russia’s Irina Khromacheva, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, and is now ranked 80th. Kumkhum, 25, made it to third round of this year’s Australian Open, her best showing in a Grand Slam event.
Kumkhum is a rarity in being only of four openly gay players — all women — to play in a 2018 Grand Slam event. It’s even rarer to find an out LGBT athlete of any sex from Asia.
“I’m used to it now,” she says, casually, when asked if she has been asked about her sexual orientation while on tour. “When I go to another country, they’re surprised. They’re like, ‘oh, you’re a man, right?’ I say no, I’m a woman. But then they don’t say anything. They just say OK and that’s that.”
While gay foreigners are accepted in Thailand, native-born Thais still struggle with acceptance, she told the Indian Express, though that is changing.
“It’s still not like Taiwan, where you can marry and all, but people at home accept it a bit more. But there is still the old thinking,” says the 25-year-old. “I’m comfortable with this. There are so many people in the world who are gay, but you’re still a person. If I’m doing good, and I haven’t killed anyone, then it’s fine.”
Kumkhum said her family has always been accepting and she hopes being LGBT in sports becomes a non-issue. Until then, it’s great that she is thriving and winning as a proud out athlete.